The five 2014 Fellows were evaluated on criteria such as intellectual merit, research capabilities, scientific excellence, potential for career enhancement via the Fellowship, and, new this year, their commitment to supporting the successes of women and girls in science.
The Fellows represent the following fields: Biochemistry, Chemistry, Polymer Physics, Chemical Ecology, and Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Katie Brenner is a postdoctoral scientist in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Brenner’s research focuses on neonatal metabolomics, specifically the early diagnosis of neonatal infections. After her first child was born early and briefly spent time in the NICU, Brenner was inspired to develop a technique that enables early risk assessment and diagnosis of many conditions for preterm babies and their mothers. She will use the L’Oreal USA For Women in Science fellowship grant to further her study which is already generating results that will change the standard of neonatal care and help save babies’ lives. Brenner has been active in promoting women in STEM since her time serving as president of Stanford’s Society for Women Engineers. In addition to mentoring several undergraduate women researchers, Brenner works with a local high school teacher to develop a series of laboratory experiments designed to bring cutting-edge science to a rural population. Brenner, 35, received a PhD in Bioengineering from the California Institute of Technology and an MS and BS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. Originally from Illinois, Brenner lives in Madison with her husband and three young children.
Livia S. Eberlin is a postdoctoral scientist in chemistry at Stanford University. After discovering the limitations of cancer diagnosis methods that are commonly used in medicine today, Eberlin began successfully experimenting with her innovative cancer detection technique using mass spectrometry imaging, a tool not commonly associated with cancer research. Eberlin will use the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship to continue developing new cancer identification methods that can be used to more efficiently and rapidly diagnose and evaluate human cancers. In fact, Eberlin’s research methods are already being piloted for gastric and other cancer diagnoses and are proving to be incredibly promising. Eberlin has been committed to serving as a role model for younger generations, most recently as a mentor to a female scientist through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program, which provides undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds with summer research experiences. Eberlin, 28, received a BS in chemistry from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil and a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Purdue University. Born and raised in Brazil, Eberlin currently resides in Sunnyvale, California with her husband and daughter.
Jennifer Laaser is a postdoctoral scientist in polymer physics at the University of Minnesota. Laaser is currently investigating how DNA interacts with charged polymers and particles, which combine to form promising materials for the next generation of gene therapies. Laaser hopes that understanding the fundamental physical interactions in these systems will ultimately help scientists design more effective therapeutics. The L’Oreal USA For Women in Science fellowship will provide Laaser with access to the equipment and conferences she needs to expand the scope of her research. Outside of her research, Laaser has a strong interest in science communication and outreach. She is active in her university’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) group, where she helps lead “Cool Chemistry,” an outreach event that brings local middle school girls to campus for chemistry activities and demonstrations. As part of her fellowship, Laaser intends to start an initiative that creates engaging videos of women doing science in order to increase the presence of female scientific role models online. Laaser, 28, received a BS in Chemistry from Yale University and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A California native, Laaser currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Lauren O’Connell is a postdoctoral Bauer Fellow at Harvard University’s FAS Center for Systems Biology, where she pursues research in chemical ecology. O’Connell is focused on establishing poison dart frogs as a novel model system in evolutionary genomics, research that could lead to new biomedical discoveries and improved conservation. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will enable O’Connell’s lab to use state-of-the-art technologies and techniques to advance these efforts. Recognizing that colorful tropical frogs are an appealing introduction to science for young students, O’Connell founded the “Little Froggers School Program” in partnership with K-12 science teachers in New England to bring engaging science to public school classrooms. O’Connell also mentors several women undergraduate researchers and high school students and participates in STEM outreach activities through the Science Club for Girls. After a mentor encouraged her to pursue her passion for science and transfer from a local community college, O’Connell, 30, received a BS from Cornell University, and a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from rural Texas, O’Connell lives in Arlington, Massachusetts with her husband and daughter.
Sabrina Stierwalt is a postdoctoral scientist in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Virginia. Stierwalt is conducting the first systematic study of the gas dynamics and star formation in interacting dwarf galaxies which may mimic how stars formed in the early universe. She is leading a large scale, multiwavelength observational program that examines pairs of dwarf galaxies, the building blocks of more massive galaxies, in a variety of interaction stages which is key to understanding how galaxies evolve. The L’Oreal USA For Women in Science fellowship will enable Stierwalt to further this research including funding time at the world-renowned Magellan Telescopes in Chile. Stierwalt has been committed to promoting STEM education throughout her career, including her time as co-founder of the Graduate Women in Physics at Cornell and her current role as a volunteer teacher for Dark Skies, Bright Kids, an afterschool program for underserved rural students. Stierwalt, 33, received a BA in Physics and a BA in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley and a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Cornell University. She was previously a postdoctoral scientist at Caltech and currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her partner, Andrew, and their daughter.
Dr. Anisa Ismail has always had a keen interest in the relationship between humans and bacteria. In Kenya, where she grew up, it was easy to see how research in health sciences could provide critical clues on how to directly combat disease and infection in third-world countries. She pursued her interest in biology, fueled with stories about her grandfather, who started his medical career studying infectious diseases that plague African countries.
In addition to biology, Dr. Ismail has also always had a love of languages. When she moved to the U.S., Spanish classes replaced Swahili classes, and this interest led to a year abroad in Spain. Here, Dr. Ismail became acutely aware of more first-world health problems that could also be combated by research in infectious disease and immunology. During graduate school, Dr. Ismail developed an interest in understanding host–microbial interactions and their effect on human health in Lora Hooper’s lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Dr. Ismail focused her graduate studies on understanding how the immune system maintains a symbiotic relationship with the commensal bacteria that reside within humans. Her work during her postdoctoral fellowship in Bonnie Bassler’s lab at Princeton University has allowed her look at this question from the perspective of both the host and the microbe.
Dr. Ismail’s goal during the L’Oréal USA Women in Science Fellowship is to study host-microbial interactions and address the question of how humans can maintain one hundred trillion commensal bacteria in our guts without becoming sick. Mammals have coevolved with vast populations of commensal bacteria, the majority of which are found in the intestine. Even though we know that maintaining friendly relationships with our commensal bacteria is critical to human health, we still do not know the exact mechanism that regulates this dynamic relationship. One possibility is that commensals and mammalian cells communicate with each other through inter-kingdom signaling, and information from these conversations is used to maintain the beneficial relationships in the intestine. Bacteria communicate with one another using chemical signal molecules through a process called quorum sensing. While bacterial-bacterial quorum sensing is well accepted, the idea of host-bacterial quorum sensing has only recently begun to be explored.
Given the intimate relationship that many bacteria share with their hosts, Dr. Ismail’s work will focus on whether inter-kingdom quorum sensing between mammals and their commensals helps to maintain the friendly relationships shared in the intestine.
Dr. Ismail received her Bachelors of Arts in Biology and Spanish from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX (2001), and was awarded her Ph.D. in immunology from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX (2009). During her graduate studies, she was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant from the National Institutes of Health. She is currently a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA post-doctoral fellow in Bonnie Bassler’s lab in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University.
Dr. Arpita Bose is a microbiologist at Harvard University who studies unusual yet ubiquitous microbes that mediate chemical transformations governing global cycling of key elements such as carbon, sulfur and iron throughout the biosphere. She uses interdisciplinary approaches such as molecular biology, genetics, bioelectrochemistry, environmental chemistry and biophysics to answer fundamental questions about the role of these microbes in nature.
Dr. Bose’s recent studies on microbes’ importance in the iron cycle suggest that they can survive and grow to modest degrees using electric current or iron minerals such as rust and carbon dioxide. These microbes are also known to produce various biofuels. Because iron is the fourth most abundant element on Earth, this discovery might allow us to use the ability of these and related organisms to tap into an underappreciated renewal source of energy. Importantly, the ability of microbes to use minerals for such metabolisms is a fundamental step forward in how we think about the evolution of life, specifically the role that microbes have played in Earth history and how they continue to shape our planet today.
Dr. Bose intends to use the funding from the L’Oréal USA Woman in Science Fellowship to further our understanding of how these microbes perform such seemingly unusual reactions. At the conclusion of the fellowship, she will move to Washington University in St. Louis as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Biology, where she will continue her investigations on microbes that mediate the biogeochemical cycling of key elements on Earth.
Dr. Luisa Whittaker-Brooks’ interest in science and technology was first kindled, and has since been sustained, by the opportunity to engage in meaningful research. She feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to become a Fulbright Scholar in order to pursue a Master’s Degree in Chemistry at the University at Buffalo. This opportunity gave her a glimpse of the scientific research process and helped her to understand the impact that Nanotechnology and Materials Science has over the worldwide scientific community. Most importantly, performing meaningful research helped her feel like she was contributing to a greater cause—advancing human knowledge and developing the foundations for the next wave of technological innovations. However, she was not simply satisfied to be a mere consumer or even worse a regular scientist. She was fit into place to learn how technology evolves and about the different ways in which society adapts itself to novel innovations.
Research opportunities at the University at Buffalo, Princeton University, Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, and Brookhaven National Laboratory opened up a whole new world for her and introduced her to the joys and wonders of the scientific enterprise. Working closely with her advisors Sarbajit Banerjee and Yueh-Lin Loo, they have been able to revolutionize the materials science field by synthesizing nanoscaled materials for their use in electronics, window coatings, sensing devices, and photovoltaics. At the same time, Dr. Whittaker-Brooks had been conducting cutting-edge research experiments at the Synchrotron Light Sources in order to completely understand the assembly of conjugated molecules on metal and inorganic semiconductor surfaces. Current work builds on her previous know-how.
Funding from L’Oréal USA Fellowship for Women In Science will support further explorations on the molecular dipoles induced by and surface energy presented by the organization of self-assembled monolayers to engineer the photo-active layer interface in inorganic-organic solar cell interfaces. The funding will also help her elucidate the fundamental processing-structure-property relationships that govern polymer-inorganic nano-interfaces to generate design rules and guidelines for the rational synthesis of these materials with tailored properties and the development of innovative processing and patterning technologies for the realization of light-weight, mechanically flexible thin-film devices, such as organic transistors and solar cells.
Recently, Dr. Whittaker-Brooks has started to synthesize thermoelectric materials which are envisioned to be used as solar-thermal generators to build up photovoltaics that are more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Moreover, if engineers attach a thermoelectric device into a car’s exhaust pipe, it can produce electricity which can be used to drive the car or charge up its battery. Therefore, thermoelectric materials could be a boon for several applications ranging from power generation to microprocessor cooling which would potentially solve all energy issues in the world.
Over the last decade, nanotechnology and materials science have emerged as truly their own field at the intersection between physics, chemistry, and biology. Hybrid electronics is also emerging as an exciting nascent field which offers a new approach to electronics, i.e., electronics based on organic and inorganic molecules. Finally, the solar cell industry is currently expanding at a rate of more than 40% a year; it is therefore essential that educational institutions train students in these subjects, so that the workforce is prepared to meet future demands. Therefore, her overall goal is to become a top-notch educator in order to develop independent thinkers. She sees teaching as a great opportunity, not only for transferring knowledge to a younger generation, but also for sharpening and broadening her scientific knowledge. This applies both to fundamental principles and to keeping abreast of the state-of-the-art.
Currently, Dr. Whittaker-Brooks is a postdoctoral research scholar at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University. Her research involves the study of structure-function relationships of organic-inorganic hybrid interfaces in photovoltaic devices. She obtained her B.S degree at the University of Panama. Subsequently, she received her M.S and Ph.D. in Chemistry at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she was a Fulbright Fellow. For her research in materials science, Dr. Whittaker-Brooks has garnered several accolades. Specifically, she was bestowed with the graduate student gold medal award by the Materials Research Society for her seminal contributions in the scientific field. Furthermore, she was triggered by her Hispanic pride to apply (and granted in 2012) for a collaborative USA-Panama grant proposal in order to strengthen cultural and educational bonds between both countries. The proposed research provides summer internships for graduate and undergraduate students interested in the advancement of materials science, nanotechnology, and engineering.
Dr. Mary Caswell Stoddard is an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist at Harvard University. She uses an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from computer science, genomics and engineering, to explore key questions in avian development and behavior. Her current research investigates the evolution and engineering of eggs.
Dr. Stoddard’s early fascination with birds was inspired by her grandmother and mother, with whom she shared many birding adventures during her childhood. Watching birds in the wild sparked a broader curiosity about nature and science, which Dr. Stoddard began to explore in high school: she spent summers studying computers and engineering at Virginia Tech, conducting field research at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and serving as a delegate to the National Youth Science Camp. As an undergraduate at Yale University, Dr. Stoddard enrolled in a course which allowed her to conduct independent research in the collections of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Dr. Stoddard began researching how colorful plumage appears to birds themselves, since birds are equipped with an advanced visual system that includes sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Working with Professor Richard Prum, Dr. Stoddard continued to research avian vision throughout her time at Yale and developed TETRACOLORSPACE, a computer program that analyzes colors using a mathematical model of bird vision. Outside the lab, Dr. Stoddard researched gull behavior at Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island, Maine.
A Marshall Scholarship and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship allowed Dr. Stoddard to pursue her PhD studies in the United Kingdom at the University of Cambridge. Joining the lab of Professor Rebecca Kilner, Dr. Stoddard combined her background in avian vision with a new set of questions related to eggs. Why have birds evolved eggs with pigmented shells, and how do these visual signals appear to parent birds or predators? Much of Dr. Stoddard’s work focused on the Common Cuckoo, a brood parasite that sneaks its eggs into the nests of unrelated species and abandons all parental care to these hosts. Dr. Stoddard’s research took her deep into the ornithology collections of the Natural History Museum as well as out into the English woodlands, where she analyzed the speckled patterns on eggs laid by a common songbird, the Great Tit.
The L’Oréal USA Fellowship will enable Dr. Stoddard to pursue research at the interface of evolutionary biology and bioengineering. From an evolutionary perspective, her goal is to discover how birds evolved diverse eggshell structures and why natural selection favored particular designs. From an engineering perspective, Dr. Stoddard hopes to better understand the egg’s special mechanical properties, with the goal of contributing to advanced materials inspired by eggs and reducing egg-borne illnesses. Dr. Stoddard has worked with the Cambridge Young Zoologists Club, the BBC One Show, the Natural History Museum’s Nature Live program and the Harvard Museum of Natural History to make her work accessible outside the academic sphere.
Dr. Stoddard received her Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University in 2008 and in 2012 completed her PhD in Zoology at the University of Cambridge. She is currently a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows at Harvard University, where she conducts postdoctoral research in the lab of Professor Scott Edwards and at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
When Dr. Stanley started her undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she couldn’t decide between her two favorite subjects – chemistry and mathematics. She decided to double major in both. Shortly after the start of her first semester, Dr. Stanley met with her academic advisor who gave her some fantastic advice. She told her that if I really wanted to pursue science that she needed to start working in a research lab immediately. This led Dr. Stanley to wander around the Chemistry department in pursuit of a lab in which she could conduct research. Dr. Stanley specifically wanted to find a lab where she could combine both chemistry and math which is how she ended up working in the lab of Daniel Jones. Over the next three years Dr. Jones introduced her to the wonderful world of crystallography. Ever since solving her first crystal structure she has been fascinated by how you can take a diffraction pattern and turn it into a three dimensional structure.
Since then, Dr. Stanley has moved from solving the structures of very small (> 1 kDa) to very large molecules (~ 2.5 M Da) and developed quite a passion for crystallography. She made the jump from working on small organic molecules as an undergraduate to working the ribosome, one of the largest complexes ever crystallized, as a graduate student in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Thomas Steitz. Now as a post-doc working in the lab of James Hurley, whose lab is part of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH,) Dr. Stanley has been taking a more hybrid approach and using crystallography in combination with a variety of other techniques to specifically look at complexes involved in the autophagy pathway within the cell. As she looks towards the future, Dr. Stanley would like to use her strong background in crystallography in combination with genetics, biochemical, and biophysical techniques to take an integrated approach to fundamental biomedical research.
Receiving the L’Oreal Fellowships For Women In Science provides essential support for the continuation of her post-doctoral research at the NIH. She plans to use a large portion of the fellowship to purchase a dynamic light scattering instrument which will be used to characterize the Atg1 kinase complex and gain insight into the complex’s stability, molecular weight, stoichiometry, and shape. Dr. Stanley’s ultimate career goal is to obtain her own independent research laboratory at either a university or research institution where she will take an integrated biophysical approach to the study of the role that autophagy plays in the immune response.
Dr. Stanley is a scientist, a wife, a mother of a beautiful nine month old daughter, a marathon runner, a lover of the arts and a voracious reader. Dr. Robin Evans Stanley received a Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Dr. Christina Agapakis is a synthetic biologist whose research explores the role of design, ecology, and evolution in biological engineering. Her work spans many scales, from proteins to plants to microbial communities, and many disciplines, from biology and engineering to art and design. Her recent projects have focused on engineering new symbiotic relationships, combinations of two or more mutualistic organisms that share resources and work together to perform an engineered task.
Her postdoctoral research is inspired by lichen, a symbiotic relationship between fungi and photosynthetic microorganisms like algae. By sharing resources, these two species can thrive in conditions where neither could survive alone. Learning from how these relationships evolve in nature, engineered symbioses can be designed that create new biological behaviors through the combination of two or more individual organisms. Engineered ecologies can impact our understanding of how organisms work together in nature, as well as help biological engineers design new living systems.
In addition to her research and teaching in biological engineering and design, Dr. Agapakis explores the aesthetic, social, and ethical dimensions of synthetic biology through art, film, and writing. Her blog, Oscillator, broadly addresses issues of genetic engineering, covering recent research as well as art that engages with biological themes. She has also collaborated with artists and designers, exploring microbial ecology and our understanding of the bacterial communities that are essential parts of our bodies and our food.
Dr. Agapakis received her Bachelor of Science in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University in 2006 and in 2011 completed her Ph.D. in Pamela Silver’s lab in the Department of Systems Biology at the Harvard Medical School. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in James Liao’s lab in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In the fall of her junior year at Harvard University, Dr. Lilian Childress was still uncertain what she would major in. She had grown up surrounded by math and science, learning about logarithms over the breakfast table and building model airplanes in the basement with her father. But in college the courses she wanted to take - geology, statistics, computer science - didn’t seem to point in a clear direction. So she made a spreadsheet of all the possible majors she could fulfill, from earth and planetary science to pure math. The one with the fewest remaining requirements was physics. The following semester she took quantum mechanics, and fell in love. This was it, the subject that could combine abstract ideas, sophisticated mathematics, experimental tests, and real-world applications.
The following year, Dr. Childress took a leave of absence to study at Oxford University. She spent the year drinking from the physics firehose, filling in gaps in her coursework, taking advanced classes, and working in the lab of Dr. John Singleton doing millimeter wave spectroscopy. By the time she returned for her senior year at Harvard, she was ready to apply to graduate schools in physics.
Remaining at Harvard for her graduate studies, Dr. Childress pursued quantum optics - the study of interactions between light and matter at the quantum level. A Hertz fellowship gave her the freedom to move around, and she worked with three advisors on six different projects, studying systems ranging from clouds of gaseous atoms to chips of gallium arsenide with tiny wells for electrons known as quantum dots. She was particularly intrigued by applications in quantum communication, which uses the peculiar disruptive nature of quantum measurements to ensure security in cryptographic protocols. Ultimately she ended up working with Prof. Mikhail Lukin on quantum communication devices based on defects in diamond. In her thesis work, Dr. Childress developed a quantum repeater protocol appropriate to diamond color centers; she also experimentally demonstrated that the defect could be used to access a long-lived quantum memory formed by individual nuclear spins in the diamond lattice.
After graduating, Dr. Childress accepted a position as an assistant professor at Bates College. She had long been intrigued by the liberal arts college model, and was excited to combine her love of teaching with a small-scale research program. Working with undergraduate students, she built a laboratory to continue studying diamond-based defects. There, her group developed techniques to directly prepare, control, and detect single nuclear spins and even mapped out the interactions between a defect and nuclear spins on different lattice site locations. Although her research program was progressing, she decided to take advantage of an unusual opportunity: because she had never had a postdoctoral research position, the college offered her a sabbatical and a two-year leave of absence to pursue postdoctoral studies.
During her sabbatical Dr. Childress worked with the group of Prof. Ronald Hanson at T.U. Delft in the Netherlands. There, the team showed for the first time the ability to read out the quantum state of individual diamond defect spins and also see quantum interference between photons emitted by different defects - two key requirements for quantum communication applications.
For her postdoctoral work, Dr. Childress decided to develop a new area of expertise in quantum optics. Working in the group of Prof. Jack Harris at Yale University, she has begun to study optomechanics - the interactions between quantum states of light and mechanical motion. The L’Oreal USA Fellowship will allow her to develop a new optomechanical device based on a potentially dissipationless mechanical material: superfluid helium. Combining excellent optical properties with superfluid flow and novel excitations, this system could drastically reduce optical and mechanical losses and provide a window into many-body physics.
Dr. Joanna Kelley became fascinated with mathematics and biology at an early age. She spent much of her childhood exploring the outdoors with her siblings, an activity that contributed to the development of her curiosity and appreciation for nature. Her parents, a mathematician and a biologist, encouraged her interests in many ways. For instance, it was common for math problems and scientific questions to be discussed at the dinner table. These early interests culminated in her pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Brown University. During her studies she developed an interest in how mathematics can be used to describe natural phenomena, leading her to add biology as a dual major.
Motivated by her interest in the study of biological diversity, Dr. Kelley focused her research on understanding the genomic basis of how organisms adapt to and survive in the wide range of environments they encounter. As a graduate student, her advisor, Professor Willie Swanson, encouraged her to explore any research topics that caught her interest within the scope of molecular evolution, which was a focus of his laboratory. Her doctoral research involved applying computational approaches to scan for directional selection signatures in genomes of individuals from several human populations. As a continuation of this study, Dr. Kelley investigated selection on several genes among additional human populations and other primates. A natural progression of these studies led her to want to test specific hypotheses about predicted adaptive changes. Thus, Dr. Kelley characterized adaptive changes in the antifreeze proteins in Antarctic fish and this research led to a month-long Polar Biology course at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Dr. Kelley continues to combine mathematics and genomic approaches to identify and characterize specific genes and pathways that underlie adaptive change and how populations diverge.
The L’Oréal fellowship provides Dr. Kelley with an opportunity to explore the genomic basis of adaptation to environments containing high levels of hydrogen sulfide. In collaboration with Dr. Michi Tobler at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Kelley will use sulfide spring populations of the fish Poecilia from three river drainages to study adaptive trait divergence, differentiation in gene sequences, and gene expression patterns. This unique system will allow Dr. Kelley to investigate patterns and mechanisms of convergent evolution of function and to determine whether the same alleles, genes, or pathways are the targets of selection across replicated environments. This project combines computational and experimental approaches from evolutionary ecology and genomics.
Dr. Kelley has received continual feedback and motivation from her parents, mentors, colleagues and friends. As a result of their support and encouragement, she is involved in outreach projects, Girl Scouts, mentoring at multiple levels, and she also started Women In Genome Sciences at UW to support members of the genome sciences community.
Dr. Kelley received her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in 2003, in mathematics and biology with honors where Dr. John Stinchcombe and Professor Johanna Schmitt provided the first experience for her to combine mathematics and ecology. In 2008, she earned her Ph.D. in Genome Sciences from the University of Washington under advisor Professor Willie Swanson. As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago with Professor Molly Przeworksi, she received a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. Dr. Kelley is currently a postdoctoral researcher Professor Carlos Bustamante in the Department of Genetics at Stanford University.
Dr. Erin Marie Williams is a postdoctoral fellow and physical anthropologist at The George Washington University’s (GWU) Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology.
Like most paleoanthropologists, Dr. Williams leads a double life, professionally speaking. Half of her time is spent in a biomechanics laboratory conducting detailed studies of how people use their hands, wrists, and arms. The other half is spent in "the field" looking for ancient bones and stone tools. In both locations, Dr. Williams is investigating the dynamic relationship between our early human ancestors and their Paleolithic technology, in order to understand the influence they have had on one another over our evolutionary history, as well as the evolutionary histories of our closest living relatives, the great apes. Stone tools represent the earliest form of technology in the archaeological record and were the Paleolithic equivalent of the modern computer in terms of their impact on our species. They accelerated a series of adaptations in our lineage which culminated in the emergence of our genus, Homo, and even our own species, Homo sapiens.
With the dual support of the L’Oreal USA Fellowship and her National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Williams is investigating the decision-making processes and abilities of our early human ancestors as evidenced through their selection of raw materials for the production and use of Early Stone Age technologies. Selecting an appropriate raw material means balancing the costs and benefits of a number of variables, including the energy required for making a tool from a given material and other physical costs incurred by the tool maker and/or user. We currently lack an expedient method for quantifying the physical costs imposed by various raw materials during stone tool behaviors. Dr. Williams’ research integrates biomechanics, archaeology, and fracture mechanics to quantify biomechanically- and raw materially-mediated physical costs incurred during stone tool production and use, in order to test long-standing hypotheses about the cognitive and decision-making abilities of our early hominin ancestors from a cost-benefit standpoint. This type of cost-benefit analysis is a key characteristic of modern human decision-making processes and understanding when this ability evolved is critical to our understanding of the archaeological record and to the evolution of human cognitive abilities.
Dr. Williams is a National Science Foundation Minority Postdoctoral Fellow conducting research at The George Washington University’s Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology, where she works in Dr. Brian Richmond’s and Dr. Bernard Wood’s joint Human Evolutionary Anatomy laboratory. As a student of Dr. Alison Brooks and Dr. Richmond, Dr. Williams earned her PhD in Hominid Paleobiology from The George Washington University in 2011 for a dissertation titled "Biomechanical strategies during Oldowan and Acheulean stone tool production". She received a BA in Anthropology from Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA) and a MA in Anthropology from GWU.
Dr. Jaclyn Winter’s inquisitiveness in the biological sciences developed at an early age, as she was frequently seen asking her parents to explain (much to their frustration) the natural phenomena she observed on a daily basis. To help answer some of these curiosities herself, Dr. Winter began her undergraduate career pursuing a degree in molecular biology. However, it was during her sophomore year organic chemistry class, taught by Professor Mark Janik, that her passion for understanding the chemistry responsible for biological processes was ignited.
The most important decision in Dr. Winter’s career thus far was joining the laboratory of Professor Bradley Moore for graduate school in which she was introduced to the astonishing world of natural products. Natural products are specialized small molecules produced by living organisms which often possess a variety of biological activities that can be used toward improving the quality of life. These molecules possess exquisite chemical diversity and are often an inspiration for the development of new therapeutic agents. During her doctoral work, Dr. Winter worked at the biology-chemistry interface investigated the biosynthesis of natural products isolated from marine-derived actinomycetes and focused on elucidating the tactics that Nature has evolved for incorporating halogen atoms onto organic substrates.
Dr. Winter’s current research focuses on exploiting the chemical diversity of biologically active natural products produced by filamentous fungi. In their host organisms, natural products are assembled and modified by specialized machinery. Often times, the complex structures or chemical modifications instated by these molecular assembly lines are very difficult to replicate using traditional synthetic methods which can impede the ability of further developing these molecules as pharmaceutical agents. An alternative approach for replicating or enhancing these structural features is by rationally reprogramming or manipulating the biosynthetic machinery responsible for natural product production. Additionally, the individual enzymes that carry out such complicated reactions can be developed into renewable and environmentally friendly biocatalysts for the chemoenzymatic synthesis or derivatization of new chemical entities.
With the support of the L’Oréal USA Fellowship for Women in Science, Dr. Winter will be able to interrogate the biosynthetic strategies that nature uses for assembling small molecules in fungi and investigate how their biosynthetic systems can be engineered to generate novel metabolites or otherwise inaccessible derivatives for testing in biological assays. By unlocking the programming rules governing the construction of biologically active compounds, Dr. Winter hopes to provide a foundation for designing enzymes that can be used toward the synthesis and semisynthesis of pharmaceutical agents with enhanced biological activity and target specificity.
Dr. Winter received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Molecular Genetics from the State University of New York at Fredonia (2004), and was awarded her Ph.D. in Oceanography with an emphasis in Marine Natural Product Biosynthesis from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. During her undergraduate and graduate studies, she was awarded a Merck/American Association for the Advancement of Science Undergraduate Research Fellowship and a Predoctoral Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, respectively. Dr. Winter is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Yi Tang’s group in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dr. Trisha Andrew always wanted to be a scientist. However, as a young child and a naïve teenager, aspiring to be a scientist was commensurate with becoming a doctor; therefore, she fortuitously chose to study Chemistry as a stepping-stone to medical school.
Late in her freshman year, Dr. Andrew started working in the labs of Professor Natia L. Frank at the University of Washington, who she admittedly chose at random from a pool comprised of the three female Chemistry faculty members at the "UDub." Working with and learning from Professor Frank, Dr. Andrew was introduced to the concept of "conjugated organic polymers", which, simply put, are unique plastics that behave like metals or semiconductors. Moreover, she was given the opportunity to engage in organic synthesis and perform a wide array of chemical reactions meant to systematically construct a desired molecule from the ground up. While working in front of her designated fume hood, Dr. Andrew realized that she loved Organic Chemistry, both for the everyday routine of a synthetic organic chemist and for the ability to logically explain natural phenomena based on the chemical reactivity of molecules.
Dr. Andrew indulged her love of organic synthesis by pursuing a Ph.D., working for Professor Timothy M. Swager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a young graduate student, Dr. Andrew synthesized chromophores, or highly-colored and often-luminescent molecules that are used as dyes. Utilizing an organic chemist’s understanding of "structure-property relationships", Dr. Andrew synthesized specialized chromophores and conjugated organic polymers capable of detecting picogram quantities of the explosive compounds used in bombs and improvised explosive devices. Additionally, taking advantage of the collaborative atmosphere of MIT, Dr. Andrew worked with a number of research groups in engineering departments to develop novel lasing structures, solar luminescent concentrators, and highly-improved lithographic techniques based on the particular properties of the libraries of chromophores she synthesized.
For her postdoctoral training, Dr. Andrew chose to work with Electrical Engineers in order to better understand the fabrication and device physics of optoelectronic devices, such as photovoltaic cells and organic light-emitting diodes. Thus far, she has already demonstrated the use of deliberately-designed conjugated polymer surfactants in improving the performance of polymer-based solar cells. The L’Oréal Fellowship for Women in Science will help Dr. Andrew investigate the interaction of organic chromophores with interesting optoelectronic materials known as "quantum dots" and fabricate unique light-emitting diodes and solar cells from these composite materials.
Dr. Andrew received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington (2005) and recently completed her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was then inspired to try her hand at Electrical Engineering by Professor Vladimir Bulović and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory in MIT.
Signs of Dr. Karlin Bark’s talent for mechanical engineering appeared early on in her life, as she enjoyed tinkering with household appliances, taking them apart, and putting them back together (unbeknownst to her parents). However, it was not until her undergraduate research experiences that she realized the creativity that is possible though engineering innovation, particularly in the field of haptics, which deals with the sense of touch.
Bark was drawn to haptics when she learned about the complexity of the sense of touch; a multitude of information is conveyed in a single swipe of a surface or touch of a hand. While our sense of touch is one of the most basic modes by which we receive and interpret information, touch remains an underappreciated and underutilized mode of interaction in technology. Bark’s research interests have focused on developing haptic feedback systems for use in clinical applications. Her doctoral work focused on a new method of lightly stretching the skin of an amputee to provide information regarding the position and movement of their prosthetic limb. As a postdoc, she has also worked on developing novel tactile feedback systems for surgeons during robotic minimally invasive surgery.
The L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant will allow Bark to study the potential use of haptic feedback in stroke rehabilitation. She will work alongside clinical specialists at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute to develop, refine, and test an affordable upper-limb rehabilitation system that can be used in clinics and homes to assist stroke survivors in retraining the motor pathways needed to complete everyday tasks. In particular, this project is aimed at patients experiencing ideomotor limb apraxia, a condition in which one cannot execute motor commands accurately with either arm, which significantly impairs one’s ability to perform everyday tasks such as eating or using hand tools. These patients face additional challenges because they struggle to comprehend visual feedback about their limb’s motion and the task at hand. Using tactile cues like the gentle guiding touch of a physical therapist has the potential to significantly improve their rehabilitation.
Bark credits her success to the support her family, friends, colleagues, and advisors have provided over the years, particularly in helping her gain confidence and challenging her to broaden her perspectives. The mentorship Dr. Bark received has had a profound impact on her life, and she is committed to mentoring the next generation of young engineers and scientists. In graduate school she taught an all-female US FIRST robotics group, and she encourages other young women and students to pursue their interests in engineering and the sciences.
Dr. Bark received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan (2003), and earned her Masters degree (2005) and Ph.D. (2009) in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University under the guidance of Professor Mark Cutkosky. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate in Professor Katherine Kuchenbecker’s Haptics Group within the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Sasha Devore is working towards understanding how the brain represents sensory information, and more specifically, how features of the task one is performing (e.g., its difficulty) or one’s expectations about the task demands affect the brain’s representation of the outside world.
Even the earliest sensory areas in the brain - those that receive physical stimulation from e.g., sound, light, or odors - receive massive feedback from higher-level brain areas. Numerous neurological diseases and disorders (such as e.g., Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia) are linked with dysfunction in these feedback pathways and are typically accompanied by impairments in sensory processing. Dr. Devore employs experimental techniques for recording from large ensembles of neurons in awake, behaving animals in order to study the function of feedback pathways in such early sensory processing. She is currently focused on understanding the role of feedback from the basal forebrain, a brain region that is critical for attention, learning and memory. Basal forebrain degeneration is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s and Dr. Devore hopes that her studies will lead to improved therapeutic interventions.
With the support of the L’Oreal fellowship, Dr. Devore will employ recently developed techniques for targeted activation of neural circuits to test the hypothesis that basal forebrain inputs to the olfactory system are activated when sensory processing demands are intense and that they coordinate information transfer to higher brain areas. These studies will provide important insight into the regulation and function of one of the many types of feedback loops involved in information processing in the brain.
Dr. Devore received her Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2001) and completed her Ph.D. in the Harvard-MIT Department of Health Science and Technology in 2009. She is currently pursuing postdoctoral research in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, where she is supported by a post-doctoral Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award.
During her high school days in Serbia, Tijana Ivanovic divided her attention between mathematics and acting, only to meet a teacher, Branka Dobrkovic, who exposed Ivanovic to the passion of her life, biology, and forever determined the course of the rest of her career. It was not until after Ivanovic completed her undergraduate degree and joined the lab of Cecilia Cheng-Mayer that her research led her to the question of how viruses cross the membrane barrier of the cell they infect.
Enveloped viruses, like Influenza virus that Ivanovic studies, are surrounded by a cell-derived lipid bilayer incorporating integral membrane glycoproteins, called fusion proteins. Fusion proteins facilitate fusion between viral and cellular membranes by engaging the cellular membrane and undergoing large conformational changes that bring together the viral and cellular membranes. Influenza virus fusion results from a concerted action of several copies of its fusion protein, but our knowledge of how these rearrangements are coordinated during fusion is lacking. Development of single molecule approaches is reshaping our understanding of biological processes and recent application of the Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF)-based microscopy technique to the study of the fusion mechanism of individual influenza virions has already addressed a number of long-standing questions about viral membrane fusion.
By covering a large part of the total cost of the TIRF-microscope parts, the L’Oreal USA Fellowship grant will enable Ivanovic to bring this technology to her new research location at the University of Colorado, Boulder. It will also fund additional small equipment and reagents necessary to carry out experiments designed to address questions about fusion protein cooperativity during influenza membrane fusion. Ivanovic will generate influenza virions that express on their surfaces fusion proteins incorporating specific mutations and assess their fusion kinetics by the recently developed TIRF-based membrane-fusion assay.
Ivanovic feels that at every stage of her education, there was a mentor, who, recognizing in her the drive and enthusiasm for science, offered great support, while at the same time challenging her to express her fullest potential. During her undergraduate studies as an international student, professor Robert Goldberg, instructor for honors Molecular Biology course, both introduced her to the scientific method and offered encouragement when the future of Ivanovic’s educational pursuit seemed uncertain due to her family’s financial situation. Ivanovic’s postdoctoral advisor at Harvard University, Stephen Harrison, both opened up the world of single-virion biophysics to her and offered an enormous emotional and practical support in planning for having a child and a very unconventional postdoctoral path.
Ivanovic received her Bachelor of Science with both college and departmental honors from University of California, Los Angeles in 1999. She worked at the Aaron Diamond Aids Research center for three years before entering Harvard Virology Program, where she earned her PhD in 2008 and was profiled in Dean’s report the same year. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University in the lab of Stephen Harrison, performing her work remotely from University of Colorado, Boulder.
Dr. Blythe Towal has always been fascinated by how things work and has never been satisfied to just accept that they do. From a young age, Towal was captivated by animals and computers alike, often spending hours taking apart old fax machines or observing the exotic animals her parents kept as pets. This dual interest in animal behavior and computers sparked her interest in robotics, especially those that mimicked human or animal capabilities. In college, Towal participated in a summer research program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she was introduced to the idea of bio-inspired engineering, or using insights about how biological systems work to engineer better artificial systems, and this idea has continued to inform her work.
Towal’s research aims to answer the question of how to efficiently and accurately acquire information from the outside world in order to take actions that will benefit us. For example, when searching for your keys in the dark, how do you move your hand to quickly search the space? Or how do you know where to look when you want to find your friend in a crowd? These problems are examples of "active sensing", where one has to choose the next movement to make with your sensors (e.g. you hands) based on partial information about the environment. Moreover, these are questions to which biological systems (e.g. humans and rats) have found elegant and often optimal solutions, so much so that we often take this ability for granted! Thus, Towal’s research focuses on determining, quantifying and modeling biological principles of active sensing with the express purpose of understanding the neural basis of perception and applying these principles to create more intelligent artificial systems, such as robots or prosthetic limbs.
With the support of the L’Oreal Fellowship for Women in Science, Towal will design and build new laboratory instruments to measure human eye movements under natural situations, like walking down the street. These instruments will enable Towal to measure where people look and determine how the properties of the environment are combined with the goals of the person to allow them to successfully complete tasks under natural conditions. Towal hopes that these experiments will lead not only to improved robotic technologies but also to a deeper understanding of information processing in the nervous system.
Towal attributes her success in science and engineering not only to her own irreplaceable mentors but also the many students she has herself mentored, who continually remind her that curiosity fuels scientific endeavors. She also notes that none of her success would have been possible without her parents’ patience or her graduate mentor’s unwavering encouragement. Moving forward, Towal intends to continue mentoring students through lab-based research projects and tutoring at local-area schools.
Towal received her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2004. She then earned her Master of Science (2006) and PhD (2010) in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. Here, she was recognized with a Presidential Fellowship award from Northwestern and a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health. Towal is currently pursuing her research at Caltech in Dr. Christof Koch’s laboratory.
Dr. Brenda Bloodgood is a neuroscientist who is exploring some of the basic mechanisms employed by a neuron to regulate the balance between neuronal excitation and inhibition, which she hopes will lead to more targeted interventions for neurological disorders such as autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia. With the support of the L'Oreal USA Fellowship grant, Dr. Bloodgood furthered her research on neuron regulation.
Quote: "Receiving the L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellowship is a tremendous opportunity and inspiration. This gives me a new sense of independence in my work and the confidence to transition from being a student to being the head of my own lab some day."
Dr. Gigi Galiana’s passion for science and research bloomed relatively late in life, with her middle and high school interests leaning toward literature and writing. Her reading habits, however, were always broad, branching into economics, philosophy and physics. Shortly after high school, she became especially interested in quantum mechanics and was inspired to major in physical chemistry as an undergraduate student.
This interest led her to the study of magnetic resonance, a medical imaging technique used in radiology to visualize detailed internal structure and functions of the body. From this technology, great value has been found in mapping out more abstract parameters that can be extracted from a series of images, a method that has been stalled in its journey from the research center to the clinic because it requires long and expensive scan times. Galiana is working on an approach that allows some data to be skipped and overall imaging time to be shortened.
The L’Oreal USA Fellowship grant enabled Galiana to further develop her research. The central development of her project is to window the large image into a series of smaller images using radio frequency (RF) pulses, and to acquire these smaller images in an interspersed fashion without slowing down overall imaging time. She will also use the grant to extend the method to nonlinear encodings that can be created with unconventional instrumentation available at her postdoctoral lab.
Vital to Galiana’s achievements as a female scientist were her advisors during graduate school who provided her with unlimited support. Also, though her research group initially included just two women, it eventually attracted a large proportion of other female students, and most of her Ph.D. studies were accomplished in a predominately female research environment. Galiana claims these women helped push her toward success and that they prove women can be accomplished in science. The relationships created there prompted Galiana to seek out more formal programs where she can mentor young female scientists, which she has done at an undergraduate and graduate level. Galiana additionally enrolled in a mentorship program sponsored by Women in Science & Engineering at Duke, where she received formal guidance on effective mentorship.
Galiana received her Bachelor of Science from Florida International University in 2001. She worked in the industry before returning to graduate school and joining Professor Warren Warren’s group at Princeton University, who she now considers among her mentors. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2008 and is currently working in Professor Todd Constable’s research group at Yale University. Her research has been published in journals including the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Science.
Quote: "I’ve been blessed in my life to be surrounded by strong, female mentors. Women are critical to science, bringing their fresh, unique perspectives to elicit creativity and successful execution of research and academic objectives."
Dr. M. Nia Madison comes from a legacy of physicians and health professionals, helping spark her interest in science at a young age. Her great-grandmother, an OB/GYN, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 for her work helping migrant workers obtain healthcare; her father is a radiologist and her mother an educator and philanthropist. Dr. Madison’s interest in science was further inspired when she learned of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, ultimately pushing her to pursue a career in biomedical research.
To date, the HIV pandemic has claimed 25 million lives globally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American individuals comprise the majority of HIV cases in the U.S., despite representing a minority of the general population. Genetic and molecular factors have been implicated in enhanced HIV susceptibility among this ethnicity. The research conducted by Dr. Madison aims to address knowledge gaps in the molecular basis of racial health disparities associated with global HIV infection rates. Her findings may also reveal novel targets for a host-directed, molecular strategy for prophylaxis against sexual transmission of HIV.
Dr. Madison’s work specifically focuses on basic, clinical and translational research with respect to early modulators of sexual transmission of HIV and the potential of these molecules to contribute to racial health inconsistencies associated with HIV infection. This link has the potential to provide previously unacknowledged causality and provide a basis for strategies to reduce these disparities. Specifically, prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) fragments, also known as ‘Semen-derived Enhancer of Viral Infection’ (SEVI), capture HIV virions and deliver them to host cells susceptible to HIV infection. The result of SEVI binding to HIV and host cells is an enormous increase in HIV infectivity.
The L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant will allow Dr. Madison to continue working to eradicate HIV/AIDS by using cutting edge technology to determine how SEVI is formed in an effort to inhibit generation of SEVI from PAP. She will concurrently investigate whether SEVI is the principle modulator of sexual transmission of HIV and whether a role exists for SEVI in the staggering racial disparity associated with sexual transmission of HIV. This is currently the only biomedical research being done to determine the causality behind racial health disparities associated with HIV infection rates.
Dr. Madison credits her own professional success to her parents and mentors, which include her graduate advisors who were both female and minorities; she stresses the importance of having women role models who will show girls how to have successful careers in addition to balanced personal lives. Dr. Madison now harbors a desire to mentor and train the next generation of minority scientists and physicians who are working to eradicate HIV/AIDS. She is involved with two community service organizations for professional, minority women who mentor high school, undergraduate and graduate minority girls in cultural, educational and career enrichment activities.
Dr. Madison received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from East Texas Baptist University (2000) and went on to earn her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Meharry Medical College (2008), where she is currently a postdoctoral research associate in the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research. She was awarded the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in 2009.
Quote: "The L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship will allow me to pursue novel technologies and more effective ways to elicit memories; a study that has the potential to help people remember things they couldn’t before. This will have an enormous impact in the world of neuroscience."
Dr. Peggy St. Jacques has always felt a strong personal connection to scientific research. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, she learned first-hand about the benefits of science after surviving childhood cancer. This sparked her curiosity and desire to pursue higher education, eventually motivating her to pursue psychology as an undergraduate student. Through subsequent research experience in psychology while at the Rotman Research Institute in the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, St. Jacques developed a passion for investigating age-related changes in the brain, specifically distinguishing how people recollect memories differently, which is her current research focus.
The goal of St. Jacques’ work is to differentiate healthy and pathological aging by examining both the cognitive and neural basis of personal memory. This will help progress the understanding, and eventual prevention, of Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disorder affecting approximately 4.5 million people in the United States alone.
Specifically, St. Jacques uses functional MRI (fMRI) to examine the neural mechanisms that support autobiographical memory. She has developed and employed novel methodologies to elicit autobiographical memory in a controlled scanning environment, leading to the identification of the neural mechanisms supporting the characteristics of a person’s memory recollection.
The L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant will allow St. Jacques to further extend her research on Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, she will test the idea that the constructive nature of memory supports both the retrieval of the past and simulation of the future. She will characterize the ability to remember the past and simulate the future in people with healthy aging and those with Alzheimer’s disease by examining how people retrieve memories and determining how the pattern of impairment in an Alzheimer brain differs from a healthy brain. She will also then use a novel camera technology to investigate the impact of more effective retrieval cues for eliciting memories or simulating the future, which could lead to applications that slow the decline in age related memory loss.
St. Jacques attributes her professional success as a woman in science in part to her mentors. She sites teachers’ and professors’ guidance for her inspiration to pursue a science career and her continued motivation to study the neural underpinnings of memory that could help people with Alzheimer’s disease. In her spare time, she actively mentors several female undergraduate students.
Dr. St. Jacques received her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University or Toronto, Canada (2003), and recently completed her Ph.D. at Duke University, Durham (2010). She is currently working on her postdoctoral research at Harvard University. Her work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals. She is also the recipient of a post-doctoral Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award.
Quote: "I’m delighted to be a recipient of the L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship. It’s exciting to have a project that I can own and control from beginning to end. This grant will give me the opportunity to prove myself at a point that’s pivotal in my career."
As a child Dr. Lindley Winslow was encouraged by her parents, who are both in the medical field, to pursue the sciences. Although she didn’t have a strong inclination towards a career in this area, in high school she took a physics class - and realized that she excelled at it. Her curiosity soon blossomed and led her to an educational path in nuclear particle astrophysics, which examines ties between the smallest particles in the universe and cosmology.
Winslow considers nuclear particle astrophysics a particularly fun area to study because no day ever repeats itself. Her work centers on answering the question of why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe. Her main project is the Double Chooz experiment, a European-American-Japanese collaboration. This experiment measures the flux of anti-neutrinos, particles generated whenever protons change into neutrons, made by a nuclear reactor. A measured deficit of anti-neutrinos gives researchers insight into their interactions and sheds light on the matter, anti-matter imbalance.
These measurements will also guide the design of future anti-neutrino detectors for nuclear non-proliferation applications. Double Chooz’s findings are particularly relevant as the ability to track nuclear fuel has become more important for countries considering nuclear power as a sustainable energy source. Winslow is presently one of the leaders of the Detector Monitoring Group for the collaboration and is one of the analysis coordinators for the U.S.-based team.
Winslow will use the L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant to continue this work, but with a new design - she plans to create a novel particle detector based on quantum dots, an innovative idea she formed while conducting her postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The quantum dots would allow researchers to build a better detector by tuning light increasing the efficiency for detecting particles. This detector would have two purposes: searching for an important, rare nuclear decay, neutrinoless double beta decay, and detecting anti-neutrinos. Measuring anti-neutrinos from a nuclear reactor allows researchers to monitor the power and operation of the reactor and possibly track the nuclear fuel. Winslow's team likes to refer to this aspect of their projects as "neutrinos for peace".
When not busy in the lab and field, Winslow is an active mentor to approximately 15 students, including five women within her research group. Mentoring is not new to Winslow, who coordinated the Society of Women in the Physical Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley for four years, a program she credits with introducing her to other women in physics and helping sustain her interest in the field. She also acted as a teaching assistant for the Physics Scholar Program for minorities and women in physics and engineering. Winslow enjoys mentorship and helping to perpetuate a chain of female scientists in a typically male-dominated field.
Winslow received her Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001. She continued there, receiving her Master’s Degree and then her Ph.D. in Physics (2008). She is now researching as a member of the Neutrino and Dark Matter Group at MIT with Professor Janet Conrad.
Quote: "Many women are capable of pursuing science as a career. They should pursue their wishes even when there are obstacles in the way. I hope to encourage them to do so and also to encourage my children to follow in such a way."
Enhanced medical technology and innovation is critical in the treatment of cancer, tumors and other biological ailments or disease. The research being conducted by Dr. Beena Kalisky has the potential to help increase drug efficiency and treatment, and help save lives. Dr. Kalisky’s research examines nanomagnets to understand their magnetic properties and potential for biomedical applications. These magnetic properties can potentially be manipulated to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of drug delivery within the body.
Dr. Kalisky became interested in physics as a child, but formally made it her career path while an undergraduate student in Israel. Dr. Kalisky was fortunate to have many role models while growing up; however, she did not have a single female advisor until she began her postdoctoral work at Stanford. She now specializes at Stanford in developing local nano probes and imaging techniques for detecting weak magnetic fields in small length scales.
The L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant will enable Dr. Kalisky to develop a new system for detection and characterization of individual nanomagnets. Currently, nanomagnets are characterized in very large groups, rather than on an individual basis. This is problematic since the properties of nanoparticles are very sensitive to small variations in volume, shape and structure, all of which vary significantly across large groups.
Dr. Kalisky will use the L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant to develop a variable temperature scanning SQUID microscope, specifically designed to detect a single nanoparticle, less than 10 nm in size. The microscope will scan over a large number of particles and individually measure their magnetic properties. Ultimately, this will allow Dr. Kalisky to probe various magnetic behaviors of the particle by varying the sample’s temperature while keeping the SQUID superconducting. This will help in the gathering of pertinent information for the exploration of the nanomagnets’ potential applications.
Dr. Kalisky dispels the myth that raising a family and having a successful scientific career must be mutually exclusive, as she is the proud mother of two boys and expecting a new baby girl. She credits her strong support system and family-friendly work environment at Stanford for making it possible for her to continue her research while raising a family.
Dr. Kalisky received her Ph.D. at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, in 2004, and then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at The Weizmann Institute in Israel. She began her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford in 2007, and was recently awarded a postdoctoral research associateship from the Center for Probing the Nanoscale. She has received the Rothschild scholarship (2007), the Clore postdoctoral fellowships (2005-2007), Wolf scholarship (2001) and the Rector and Dean prizes for excellence in research as well as in teaching.
Quote: "The work of female scientists goes beyond their research; they are showing the next generation of women that a science career is possible and exciting. This will eventually lead to more women scientists."
The evidence of climate change has been called "unequivocal", posing a new challenge for scientists - how to limit the negative impact of human activities on the global climate. Dr. Aster Kammrath is at the forefront of research, studying the pathways by which molecules emitted by human activity or natural sources are involved in climate change and pollution problems. Her work aims to help set appropriate emissions controls to minimize the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and of aerosol, ultimately helping to address respiratory problems and improve overall quality of life.
Dr. Kammrath’s father, a teacher of meteorology and geology, nurtured his daughter’s scientific spirit by taking her to school with him and to local science museums. In addition, Dr. Kammrath’s mother encouraged her daughter to participate in a yearly school science fair. But it was not until high school when Dr. Kammrath attended, "chemistry for non-chemists", at Concordia University, that her interest in science officially became her career path.
Dr. Kammrath’s work with the Keutsch Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, includes both applied and fundamental research in atmospheric chemistry. Her fundamental research is focused on clarifying the role of compounds in atmospheric chemistry. By understanding the different interactions these compounds can have, Dr. Kammrath can improve the models used to predict the effects of emission controls - or the lack thereof - on air quality in the short term, and climate change in the long term.
The L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant will allow Dr. Kammrath to extend her research focus to adapting existing techniques for use in novel applications, and implementing cutting edge technology to optimize instruments for use in the field. Much of the measurement done for atmospheric chemistry research is done outside of the laboratory environment. Ideally, an instrument used for field measurements should be portable, lightweight, compact and have relatively low energy requirements. It should also be relatively unaffected by vibrations, dust and other non-ideal conditions encountered outside of the laboratory. The instrument Dr. Kammrath is developing will be compact, portable and low-cost, and it will be used for the simultaneous measurement of small alpha dicarbonyl compounds, which are formed by the breakdown in the atmosphere of molecules emitted from both natural and man made sources. Ultimately, the data provided by Dr. Kammrath’s instrument will help determine the effects of those compounds on air quality and climate change.
Dr. Kammrath received her B.S. from Valparaiso University in 2002, where she majored in chemistry. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007. She is currently doing postdoctoral research in the group of Professor Frank Keutsch at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Quote: "I want to attract women to science by showing them that science is a creative, collaborative and project driven field."
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease impacting 5.3 million people in the United States and is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly. Currently, there is no cure, but Dr. Nishimura is working to change this by identifying the events that trigger the disease and potential strategies for preventing dementia.
Dr. Nishimura grew up surrounded by science, influenced by her two Astronomer parents. However, it was actually ballet that sparked her interest in the scientific process at the age of ten. Interested in finding new ways to train dancers, Dr. Nishimura’s ballet instructor used math to describe dance. Her instructor’s passion for math and willingness to take intellectual risk inspired Dr. Nishimura to look closely at how science impacts everyday life.
Dr. Nishimura displays that same passion for intellectual risk through her research. Her work uses a unique combination of optical and biological tools to mimic injuries in brain capillaries that could affect Alzheimer’s disease. On a clinical level, Alzheimer's disease is often entangled with vascular disease, suggesting that the two diseases are interrelated. This means that successful treatment will likely have to address aspects of both diseases and take into consideration how the two conditions might affect each other.
She will use the L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant to test the idea that blood vessel dysfunction plays a major role in triggering Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Nishimura will look at how clots or bleeds in the smallest blood vessels in the brain could seed the accumulation of A-beta proteins. In Alzheimer’s disease, toxic A-beta proteins accumulate in the brain, eventually forming deposits called plaques. People produce A-beta throughout their lives, but as some get older, they seem to lose the ability to remove A-beta from the brain. As the brain’s blood vessels are an important pathway for the removal of A-beta, it suggests that effects of Alzheimer’s disease may begin with damage in these vessels.
Dr. Nishimura will then investigate whether blood vessel injuries in young animals with no symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease lead to accelerated plaque development in later life. Dr. Nishimura and collaborators have developed methods for triggering blood vessel injury and then observing the formation of A-beta plaques in animal models that overproduce A-beta proteins, similar to human patients.
Dr. Nishimura received her B.A. in Physics from Harvard University in 1999, where she began working with high-power lasers. She received a Ph.D. in Physics from University of California, San Diego in 2006, where her work shifted to the study of blood flow in the brain using optical methods. Dr. Nishimura is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Schaffer Group at Cornell University. She was awarded a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship in 2001.
Dr. Tiffany Santos
Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory
Material Science and Physics
Quote: "I want to change the common misconception across society that women must choose between a challenging career and a home or personal life."
In a world driven by telecommunications technologies, where cell phone and computer use is skyrocketing, energy consumption to fuel these technologies is growing exponentially. The work being conducted by Dr. Tiffany Santos aims to identify new, more energy efficient technologies. Dr. Santos hopes her groundbreaking research will uncover new materials, which could potentially help reduce power consumption and increase the energy efficiency of information technologies, such as data storage devices and memory chips.
Dr. Santos’ curiosity for the complexity of how things work started at a young age, as she gravitated toward biology and physics classes in middle school and high school. However, it was not until her undergraduate studies at MIT that Dr. Santos began to consider science as a career. With no previous experience working in a lab, Dr. Santos’ advisors and professors became her role models, guiding her from that first undergraduate research experience to her ongoing postdoctoral studies today.
Dr. Santos’ passion for discovery is prevalent in her current research. Her work includes investigating a class of materials called transition metal oxides, which have a wide array of properties that have great application potential. Dr. Santos designs and builds layered oxide structures, with the goal of not only discovering emergent interfacial properties, but also optimizing and controlling them. By tailoring the material properties at the nanoscale, it is possible to enhance their performance and extend their operating temperature to well above room temperature, which enables them for use in practical devices. These functional oxide materials can revolutionize technologies such as solid oxide fuel cells, thermoelectric power, data storage devices, memory chips and electric power transmission.
Dr. Santos will use the L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant to develop nanoscale device structures and to conduct sensitive electrical and magnetic measurements on them. She will then conduct experiments at x-ray and neutron scattering user facilities, which provide powerful techniques to determine the chemical nature and magnetic order of oxide multilayers. In addition, the grant will be used to support an undergraduate student through the course of a short-term research project under Dr. Santos’ guidance.
Dr. Santos earned her B.S. in 2002 and a Ph.D. in 2007, both in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Center for Nanoscale Materials Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship. She has presented her research at conferences, both domestic and abroad, and her work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Physical Review Letters. Dr. Santos is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory.
Quote: "As a mentor, it is important to encourage girls to explore every area of science and help them understand how their work contributes to broad research efforts."
The impact of global warming on our environment is unprecedented, and the research being conducted by Dr. Erika Sudderth aims to understand the mechanisms driving ecosystem responses to climate change. Dr. Sudderth’s research into how biological interactions affect a plant’s response to climate change could potentially be used to develop effective strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the environment.
Dr. Sudderth’s interest in ecology and conservation developed while growing up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. She was fascinated by the forest ecosystems, and witnessed firsthand the impacts of logging and land development. One of her fondest memories of her early science studies is attending the National Youth Science Camp during her senior year of high school. The hands-on experience she gained during the camp exposed her to the scientific process and inspired her to pursue a science career.
The L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant will support a large-scale extension of Dr. Sudderth’s current research on the response of grasslands to global change. She will work with Professor Osvaldo Sala at Brown University to help understand the constraints, thresholds, and limits of ecological responses to precipitation, which is arguably the most important controller of ecosystem processes. Dr. Sudderth will use molecular and physiological documentation of biotic response to climate change to understand and predict how ecosystem processes will be affected by changing precipitation patterns. Importantly, cross-site comparisons will allow Dr. Sudderth to distinguish between general relationships that exist across all habitats and ones that are unique to specific habitats. This knowledge will improve models of critical ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, carbon storage and water storage. The ability to maintain ecosystems to support the needs of the world's growing population depends on a thorough understanding of the mechanisms linking species interactions and ecosystem processes.
Dr. Sudderth attended University of California, San Diego, where she received her B.S. in 1999 in Biochemistry and Cell Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies. She then attended Harvard, where she completed her dissertation in 2007. Her thesis research addressed how global climate change affects plant-herbivore interactions, plant competition, and future distributions of vegetation. She is currently finishing a postdoctoral research project at University of California, Berkeley, studying the responses of annual grasslands to global change in an interdisciplinary project funded by a Department of Energy ‘Genes to Ecosystems’ initiative. In July 2009, Dr. Sudderth will join the laboratory of Professor Osvaldo Sala at Brown University as a postdoctoral fellow and will continue her work to better understand how ecosystems are impacted by climate change and to develop strategies to lessen these inevitable impacts.
Dr. Aton studies the role of connections between nerve cells in consolidating ocular dominance plasticity during sleep by recording large groups of individual neurons in freely sleeping animals. Ocular dominance plasticity is a term that describes the remodeling of nerve synapses that occurs in the visual cortex of the brain in response to changes in visual input from both eyes.
The L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship allowed Aton to purchase equipment required to address the first study attempting large-scale recording of neurons within a synaptically-integrated network during plastic remodeling.
Dr. Aton received her B.S. in Biopsychology & Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006. She was a recipient of the National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship, National Research Service Awards from the National Institute of Mental Health and National Eye Institute, and a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Sleep Foundation.
Ania Bleszynski Jayich received her PhD in physics from Harvard in 2006 and her B.S. in physics and mathematical and computational science from Stanford in 2000. Under the supervision of Prof. Bob Westervelt, her thesis focused on scanned probe imaging of electron flow in semiconductor nanostructures. As a postdoc in Prof. Jack Harris's group at Yale, she worked on magnetization measurements of condensed matter systems using ultrasensitive micromechanical detectors. Before joining UCSB as an assistant professor in 2010, she worked on coupling nitrogen-vacancy centers in diamond to nanomechanical resonators, in a project co-supervised by Profs. Misha Lukin at Harvard and Jack Harris.
Dr. Lapham graduated from The Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and earned her Ph.D. in Marine Sciences from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In April 2007 she returned to FSU as a post-doc in the oceanography department. There, she assists Professor Jeff Chanton, with his research while also pursuing her own, and helps train graduate students in the department's laboratory.
The best solution to a problem often requires several disciplines. Dr. Sridevi Vedula Sarma can attest to this, as she is combining neuroscience and engineering to improve a breakthrough treatment for Parkinson disease.
Each year, nearly 40,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson disease, a chronic progressive neurological disease causing movement disorders such as tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement. While surgery and medications are available to relieve some of the symptoms in the short term, there is no cure to stop the progression of the disease.
After seeing the devastating effects of Parkinson disease on a family member, Dr. Sarma committed herself to fighting the illness. She’s working with a highly promising treatment, deep brain stimulation (DBS); a surgical procedure that involves implanting an electrode into a targeted area of the brain. The electrode is connected to a neurostimulator that injects current back into the brain to "regulate" the pathological neural activity and motor behavior. While DBS is a virtual breakthrough for Parkinson disease, the calibration of the optimal stimulation signal can take several months of trial-and-error, as there are millions of stimulation parameters involved.
Dr. Sarma used her L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant to employ engineering principles to automate the post-operative calibration process. She developed laptop-based tasks for DBS patients to perform, to measure motor behaviors such as movement velocity and accuracy. Using these tasks, Dr. Sarma collected data on patients and build data-driven models that mathematically relate DBS stimuli to behavior. With this data, she built control algorithms that will generate suggestions of how to change the DBS parameters to elicit more normal behaviors. Such an automated system will relieve patients of frequent visits, significantly cut medical costs and allow neurologists to treat more DBS patients.
Dr. Sarma received a B.S. from Cornell University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in 2006 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She has been awarded the GE Faculty for the Future scholarship, a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship, and is a 2008 recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Careers at the Scientific Interface Award.
For some, the sky’s the limit, but for Dr. Sandra Ugrina, it’s just the beginning. Dr. Ugrina is pioneering the field of active flow control, poised to dramatically enhance aerodynamic efficiency over the next decade.
For the aerospace industry, jet fuel is the largest expense. Each one-cent increase in the price-per-gallon costs U.S. airlines nearly $200 million each year. With the rising price of oil and increasing concern over climate change, strategies to increase fuel efficiency are in great demand.
Dr. Ugrina is working to combat this problem by developing innovative, materials that help to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of materials and reduce fuel consumption. She is at the forefront of the field of active flow control, which involves the application of techniques to improve fluid quality control over an aerodynamic surface. Dr. Ugrina’s research objectives include reducing drag enough to decrease fuel consumption by 15%. The first student at the University of Maryland to study active flow control, Dr. Ugrina brought ideas for breakthrough research in the field to the table and has worked closely with her postdoctoral adviser to spearhead a new program in the Department of Aerospace Engineering.
Dr. Ugrina used her L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant to study and design smart material actuators that respond dynamically to external conditions and extend regions of laminar flow, or undisturbed fluid flow, over an aerodynamic surface. Extending laminar flow, for example, over the length of an airplane’s wing will help to reduce drag and energy consumption, while increasing aerodynamic efficiency and reducing noise. Dr. Ugrina implemented control schemes using a fully integrated system design guided by a real-time interpretation of sensor information and reliable actuators.
Specifically, Dr. Ugrina used the funding from the L’Oréal USA Fellowship to conduct a theoretical analysis to formulate a feedback flow control program, providing a foundation for further advancements in laminar flow control. Dr. Ugrina’s long-term research objectives include helping commercial aircraft to reach the industry target of reducing current fuel consumption 50% by 2020. With the help of laminar flow technologies that reduce viscous drag, fuel consumption can decrease. Through her pioneering research, Dr. Ugrina is helping to pave the way for more efficient aerodynamics contributing to cleaner skies.
Dr. Ugrina received her B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 2002 and her Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering from University of Maryland in 2007. Dr. Ugrina researches at the University of Maryland. Her work has been recognized and presented at a variety of conferences.
Dr. Jaime Barnes is going straight to the source. To better understand volcanic eruptions, Dr. Barnes is analyzing chlorine isotope ratios of rocks, minerals, and volcanic gases to determine the source of chlorine emitted from active volcanoes. Chlorine is the third most abundant volatile transferred into the earth’s atmosphere from volcanoes (after water and CO2.) It may hold the key to how volcanic eruptions occur and thus help scientists to predict future eruptions.
Dr. Barnes has revived the interest in chlorine isotope geochemistry, a subject that was first investigated over four decades ago, but has since languished due to technical difficulties and a lack or appreciation for what can be done with the technique. Chlorine is believed to affect important processes such as melting in the overlying mantle wedge, and can be used as a tracer for volatile transport in subduction zones, an area where two tectonic plates collide and the denser sinks into the mantle beneath the more buoyant plate.
Dr. Barnes is identifying sources of chlorine in two very different subduction zones, and has recognized important isotopic fractionation processes between hydrochloric acid solutions and vapor, which have implications for the fundamental dissociation of hydrochlorine in aqueous solutions.
In a short time, Dr. Barnes’ work is believed to have significantly advanced this underutilized and not easily understood area of geochemistry. Her work has shifted the geochemical community’s assessment of chlorine isotope geochemistry from an overlooked, unusual chemical method to one that is addressing important questions of broad interest to geoscientists.
Dr. Barnes’ L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant allowed her to continue to monitor the volatile chemistry of the Poás volcano in Costa Rica, expanding the depth of her study in this area. The grant also allowed Dr. Barnes to present her research in 2007 at two of the most important meetings in her field of research: the American Geophysical Union and Goldschmidt Conference.
Dr. Barnes received her Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the University of New Mexico in 2006. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship and has received several national and university geological awards. She is currently an Assistant Professor with the Department of Geological Sciences at the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas, Austin.
While rats cause the average person to cringe, Dr. Sarah Clinton believes rats will unlock our understanding of mood disorders (e.g. major depression and bipolar disorder) and anxiety disorders (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder), which affect tens of millions of people globally.
Despite the enormity of the social, economic, and public health issues involved, the etiology and pathophysiology of these disorders remains poorly understood, and few fully effective treatments are available. Using animal models to understand psychiatric illness, Dr. Clinton is poised to become one of the next leaders in the field of neuroscience.
Dr. Clinton is studying the roles that nature and nurture play in shaping emotionality and emotionally-driven behaviors in rats - research that may help explain similar behaviors in humans. She is working with two lines of rats selectively bred for differences in "novelty-seeking" - a trait that predicts several key facets of emotional reactivity, including fear and anxiety-like behavior, and propensity to self-administer drugs of abuse. One group of rats, called "High Responders" or HR, displays increased aggression and novelty-seeking, whereas the other group, titled "Low Responders" or LR, is inhibited and show low novelty-seeking.
Dr. Clinton is leading a series of studies aiming to elucidate possible genetic, developmental and environmental factors contributing to innate differences between these two groups. She is trying to attain a better understanding of how these factors interact to influence brain development and may make certain individuals particularly vulnerable to developing psychiatric illness. Thanks to her work, we may eventually be better able to treat, or even prevent the emergence of certain illnesses.
Dr. Clinton’s L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant allowed her to continue her research, focusing on the impact of HR and LR mothering-styles on their offspring’s behavior and neural stress-circuitry as well as the maternal behavior of female offspring. When complete, this body of work should yield a greater understanding of how genetic and environmental factors interact to shape inborn differences in emotionality, which may, in turn, put individuals at risk for developing stress-induced psychiatric disorders.
Dr. Clinton earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2004. As a postdoctoral fellow she has contributed to two papers, ten abstract presentations and several manuscripts in preparation. Dr. Clinton is widely published for a scientist of her age; during her tenure in graduate school, she published eight first-author papers in some of the most highly regarded psychiatry journals, including Neuropsychopharmacology and the American Journal of Psychiatry.
While many look up to the skies for inspiration, Julie Huber looks down. All the way down to the seafloor, to be specific. Dr. Huber is researching microbes that inhabit the bottom of the ocean, one of the largest but least accessible parts of the marine world.
Microbes have served as the primary engines of the Earth’s biosphere for more than three billion years, mediating essential biogeochemical cycles that shape planetary habitability. Microbes are vital in elemental cycling, carbon sequestration, and the earth’s evolution, yet scientists still have a limited understanding of these organisms, especially in the world’s oceans.
To illuminate this issue, Dr. Huber is investigating microbial communities within the subseafloor. The subseafloor environment represents a unique and ubiquitous habitat on Earth, and much remains to be discovered in this complex ecosystem. Due to the challenges of understanding this habitat, a range of techniques must be applied to every sample to advance scientists’ knowledge of resident microbial communities. Dr. Huber’s project applies a combined molecular diversity, metagenomic, and geochemical approach to provide a window into this world.
As part of her L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant, Dr. Huber looked at large insert DNA libraries, which allowed her to understand the metabolic capacity, genomic context, and phylogenetic relationships of subseafloor communities. This new application of "metagenomics" to microbial ecology is important for understanding how microbial populations function in and regulate the world’s oceans. Dr. Huber’s work relates to fundamental questions about the origin of life, limits of life in extreme environments, and the connection between life and geological processes that extend to global and extra-terrestrial scales.
As an oceanographer who has logged over six months at sea on research cruises around the Pacific, Dr. Huber has professional and research experience that rivals those of peers beyond her age. As a graduate student at the University of Washington, she was instrumental in the formation and success of the Astrobiology program. In addition, seven publications - four of which she first-authored - resulted from her graduate work.
Dr. Huber received her Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington in 2004. Prior to attending the University of Washington, Dr. Huber received an undergraduate degree at Eckerd College, where she graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She has been awarded a NRC Research Associateship, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and was a Ford Foundation and NASA Scholar.
Scientists search far beyond the surface of an issue, but Maria Krisch has learned that sometimes the surface matters most. She’s researching fundamental properties of the surfaces of liquid solutions. Her findings will have several practical applications, including bringing a much needed quantitative and physical picture to the role that aerosol particles play in pollution and climate change.
Dr. Krisch’s area of focus is understanding liquid-vapor interfaces at the molecular level. As the surface of a particle is where the liquid and vapors meet, it’s important to research surface properties to understand how these two states interact. While this area has been studied extensively with water-based solutions, very little is known about surface area properties of non-aqueous solutions.
Atmospheric chemistry is the main motivation for Dr. Krisch’s work. The atmosphere is full of tiny liquid and solid suspensions called aerosols. The formation of these aerosols is mirrored by the liquid systems created by Dr. Krisch in her work. Because of the small size of the liquid droplets in aerosols, aerosols have a large amount of surface area for a given volume of liquid and hence the composition of the liquid surface is important to atmospheric reaction. Researching these aerosols will bring insight into understanding climate change and protecting the ozone layer.
As part of her fellowship, Dr. Krisch used an x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy apparatus to expose samples to x-rays and understand surface area properties. The x-rays excite atoms in the sample and cause them to eject electrons at characteristic energies. Monitoring how many electrons leave the sample at different energies, she will be able to learn what kinds of atoms compose the sample. To do this, Dr. Krisch worked in tandem with a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, and will be conducting experiments at the University of Houston and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Each of these laboratories provides unique knowledge and materials that was vital to Dr. Krisch’s work. Following her accomplishments and past research, she has quickly established these important partnerships with respected leaders in her field.
Dr. Krisch received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 2005. She has first-authored four papers and co-authored several others. She was a recipient of a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship award in Atmospheric Chemistry. Prior to commencing her post-doctoral work, Dr. Krisch served as a lecturer at Haverford College for one semester teaching an undergraduate environmental science course.
Medication only helps a patient if it goes to the right place, and Kim Woodrow’s goal is to make sure this happens as often as possible. Dr. Woodrow is developing new drug delivery strategies and diagnostic tools for the monitoring and treatment of infectious diseases and cancer.
Dr. Woodrow represents a new breed of scientist and engineer who has mastered both engineering principles and the tenets of the biological sciences. Her research -- in the field of drug delivery and tissue engineering -- concerns the development of new approaches for targeted and sustained delivery of pharmacophores, and will most likely translate into new technology for imaging and treating diseases. Her background in life sciences and engineering provides her with a unique perspective and scientific outlook compared to that of a traditional researcher.
Dr. Woodrow’s research is aimed at developing new drug delivery strategies and diagnostic tools by using various bioactive peptides to engineer multifunctional nanoparticles. In particular, she is interested in designing biodegradable nanoparticles that will be efficiently delivered intracellularly once at a target site. She is also interested in extending her current research to include ligands for specific molecular targeting or designing targeting functionality into the properties of the drug.
Many emerging cancer therapies are directed against tumor angiogenesis, but may be too aggressive and lead to genetic instability in the tumor, worsening the state. Dr. Woodrow is exploring a controlled-release strategy for delivering anti-angiogenic factors to tumors as an improved therapy. Her L’Oréal USA Fellowship grant allowed her to continue training in controlled-release and nanoparticle technology. She will also develop skills in mammalian tissue cultures, in vivo animal models, and working as part of a multidisciplinary team. Dr. Woodrow firmly believes that the combination of molecular biology strategies and nanotechnology presents many opportunities for cancer detection and treatment.
This is not the first time that Dr. Woodrow will pioneer research ahead of her peers. In graduate school, she developed a procedure for the parallel synthesis of linear expression templates, which enabled rapid expression of functional protein arrays using cell-free protein synthesis. Dr. Woodrow’s success in this area was published in the Journal for Proteome Research.
Dr. Woodrow received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University in 2006. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a National Institute of Health Genomics Postdoctoral Training Fellowship. Dr. Woodrow has been published in prestigious journals and shares a patent for a nucleic acid delivery system.
Anne Carpenter is the director of the Imaging Platform at the Broad Institute. She has a strong background in cell biology, microscopy, and computational biology. Her expertise is in developing and applying methods for extracting quantitative information from biological images, especially in a high-throughput manner.
Carpenter earned her B.S. from Purdue University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She studied with David M. Sabatini of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Polina Golland at the Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
McNeil was dubbed a "steady juggernaut of intellectual power" by a previous adviser. Her research project investigated a new approach to improve the sensitivity, selectivity, and versatility of fluorescent polymer-based chemo- and biosensors. More specifically, she explored a novel sensing scheme based on the analyte-triggered release of a "masked" quencher proximate to the fluorescent polymer. She integrated this method into a biosensor platform for the early diagnosis of diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Philpott is studied the conservation potential of coffee certification programs in Chiapas, Mexico, and Sumatra, Indonesia. Her research project focused on the effects of hurricanes and other ecological damage on coffee agroecosystems in the Soconusco region of Chiapas to inform conservation management decisions for long-term sustainability. She is currently an Associate Professor and the Alfred & Ruth Heller Chair in Agroecology at University of California Santa Cruz.
Dr. Povinelli’s research focuses on optical properties of nanostructured materials. Advances in nanofabrication techniques now allow us to pattern materials on a scale smaller than the wavelength of light. She is interested in harnessing this capability to create novel nanophotonic devices for application areas including optical communications, solar energy, and materials. In her work, she uses theory and computational simulations to investigate novel optical behavior and device functionality in such systems as photonic crystals, metamaterials, and microresonators. She is also working on the fabrication and experimental characterization of photonic-crystal slab devices. Particular topics of interest include optically-induced forces and nanostructured solar cells.
Dr. Povinelli earned a BA with Honors in Physics from the University of Chicago, an M. Phil in Physics from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Roll-Mecak is forging new ground in cell biology and microscopy by combining live-cell high-resolution microscopy with the tools of structure and biochemistry. She is deciphering the in vivo functions of the protein spastin, which is affected in hereditary spastic paraplegia, a group of degenerative, neurologic disorders that are characterized by progressive weakness and stiffness of the legs. Her research project aimed to improve the understanding of the mechanism of action of spastin and the cellular consequences incurred when this enzyme fails, leading to disease.
Antonina Roll-Mecak received her B.E in chemical engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1996 and her Ph.D. in molecular biophysics from the Rockefeller University in 2002.
Dr. Lisa Everett is a theoretical physicist, focused on seeking connections between the string theory and the observable world as studied in present and forthcoming laboratory experiments.
Dr. Stacey Halpern is an ecology, evolution and behavioral scientist involved in better understanding the factors that control plant population size, important in addressing environmental and economic problems created by invasive and weedy species.
Plants and insects make up more than half of all known species, and their interactions play key roles in both natural and agricultural systems. Both plants and plant-insect interactions are also strongly affected by changes in the environment, including human-caused changes. She studies the responses of plant populations and plant-insect interactions to this environmental variation. She aims to do research that not only addresses fundamental questions in ecology and evolution, but also contributes to understanding and perhaps mitigating the ecological effects of changes caused by human activities.
Born in El Salvador and raised in California, Cindy Quezada has a history of seeking opportunities to tackle difficult issues in developing countries. She began her undergraduate studies in international relations, but soon discovered her passion for science, which eventually culminated in a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. She is a biochemist and molecular biophysicist working to decipher how bacteria manipulate normal cellular processes in order to proliferate and survive within our cells. Further knowledge of how bacteria cause disease may identify interesting prospects for drug development.
Dr. Julie Simpson is a molecular and cellular biologist, interested in how the brain receives information from the environment and orchestrates an appropriate behavioral response. Understanding how the brain's neural circuits control behavior and how they are modified by experience is essential for deciphering normal learning and disease states.
Dr. Jennifer Stine-Elam is a biochemist studying the biogenesis of amyloid fibers associated with degenerative diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Dr. Elam is also studying the possible disease-causing effects of bacteria that produce curli fibers.
Kelly was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. degree in chemistry and English from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA, in 2000. During her time there, she worked under the direction of Professor Mark Harris on her honors project in chemistry focusing on synthesizing oligonucleotide analogs of the AIDS drug AZT.
During the summers of 1998 and 1999, she participated in National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored research programs at the University of Virginia and North Carolina State University. She was a graduate student in the laboratory of Professor Gary A. Molander at the University of Pennsylvania, where her research focused on the synthesis of biologically active and medicinally significant natural products. She completed the total synthesis of (+)-isoschizandrin and is currently working on the total synthesis of variecolin, a potent immunosuppressant.
During her time at the University of Pennsylvania, Kelly led a Women in Chemistry group in order to mentor to younger women in science through various outreach activities and organized meetings with outstanding women scientists in both industry and academia.
Kelly now works as an Associate Principal Chemist for L’Oréal USA.
After growing up in San Jose, California, Karen attended Dartmouth College, where she double-majored in Biology and Chemistry. She conducted her senior honors thesis studying the role of the β2 subunit in sodium channel trafficking. During Karen’s junior year, she received a fellowship to carry out summer research at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany. This experience furthered her interest in science research and initiated her interest in intercultural exchange and foreign travel.
After graduating college, Karen received a DAAD scholarship to research and study in Freiburg, Germany for a year. During this time, she researched the regulation of immediate early genes after nerve axotomy. Karen then took a position in Switzerland, where she studied the effects of the NOGO protein on nerve regeneration after spinal cord injuries.
Karen received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and studied the membrane trafficking of glutamate receptors using electrophysiological techniques.
She has worked with two programs, UCSF’s Science Education Program (SEP) and San Jose State’s Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), to bring hands-on science lessons to local public school children. Karen has taught biology lessons to San Francisco elementary, middle and high school classrooms. She has also taught an e genetics workshop as part of a weekend event to encourage interest in science amongst middle school girls. Karen takes pleasure in the positive effects of this volunteer work, which is best evidenced by her students who want her to return to teach additional classes. In what spare time Karen has she continues to travel, in particular to Central and South America.
Amy Lucía Prieto was born in Bogotá, Colombia, but spent most of her childhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She graduated from Williams College in 1996 with majors in chemistry and philosophy, and completed her honors thesis in chemistry. In addition to her academic endeavors, Amy played softball and rugby.
After winning a fellowship from Bell Labs (Lucent Technologies), she worked on the synthesis of reduced ternary titanates from high temperature barium borate fluxes. After her summer at Bell Labs, Amy moved to the University of California, Berkeley, to pursue her doctoral work with Professor Angelica Stacy on the electrodeposition of nanowires of CoSb3, Bi1-xSbx, and Bi2Te3 into porous anodic alumina as a first step toward studying the effect of quantum confinement on the thermoelectric properties of these materials. Outside the lab, she was able to pursue her love of rugby and hiking, and even learned how to brew beer.
Amy was involved in postdoctoral research with Professor Hongkun Park at Harvard University, where she pursued her interest in the synthesis of nanostructured materials with interesting electronic properties.
Dr. Pardis Sabeti is an Associate Professor at the Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease at Harvard School of Public Health, and is a Senior Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.
Dr. Sabeti is a computational geneticist with expertise studying genetic diversity, developing algorithms to detect genetic signatures of natural selection, and carrying out genetic association studies. She completed her undergraduate degree at MIT and her PhD at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, before returning to earn her medical degree from Harvard Medical School as a Soros Fellow. Dr. Sabeti’s lab focuses on detecting and characterizing signals of natural selection in humans and pathogens.
Originally from New York, NY, Dr. Sheila Tandon earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union, New York, NY. She then went on to work at the New York office of PricewaterhouseCoopers as an associate in their Business and Advisory Services practice earning her Certified Public Accountant’s license.
Upon receiving a Presidential Fellowship to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she began her graduate work at MIT in Electrical Engineering. Under the advisement of Professor Leslie Kolodziejski in the Integrated Photonic Devices and Materials Group, Sheila’s PhD research focuses on two main projects in the area of novel optical devices. The first project is a unique mirror that allows the generation ultra-short pulses, pulses on the order of 10-15 seconds in duration, in a number of laser systems. The second project is the creation of a “superprism” which uses can spread different wavelengths of light over exceptionally wide angles. Both projects involve creating working devices out of nanometer sized features--features one billionth of a meter in size. Outside of the lab, Sheila was president of MIT’s only all-women’s graduate dorm and a graduate resident tutor in a new undergraduate dorm.