Wednesday, 20 February 2013 19:00

Our People: Lucy Shapiro Wins National Medal of Science

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Lucy Shapiro Lucy Shapiro

Lucy Shapiro, Stanford University, was at the White House February 1 to receive a 2011 National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama who described the medals as "the nation's highest honor for invention and discovery."

An ASCB member since 1988, Shapiro has been a pioneer in bacterial cell biology, establishing the Caulobacter as a model organism for exploring the little known mechanisms of basic bacterial cell life such as cell cycle and cell specification.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which administers the medals, filmed a short news video in which Shapiro appeared seated, with her four young grandchildren standing around her. View video

In the interview, Shapiro stressed the urgency of understanding bacteria as cells. "Right now we are in a perfect storm of an increasing (number) of therapeutic drugs that are no longer working because of resistance as well as emerging infectious diseases because we live in a global village." On their best behavior, the grandchildren struggled mightily to follow her message until the last 30 seconds of the video when Shapiro addressed them directly with her hopes for their future. The ending is priceless.

John Fleischman

John is ASCB Senior Science Writer and the author among other things of two nonfiction books for older children, "Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science" and "Black & White Airmen," both from Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, Boston.

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