Christina Szalinski

Christina Szalinski

Christina is a science writer for the American Society for Cell Biology. She earned her Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Molecular Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh.


The biomedical research ecosystem is changing. The resources are scarcer, yet more trainees are competing for coveted tenure-track positions than ever before. The competition is made tougher by the 
impact factor of journals being used as a measure of research success. Fewer than 10% of PhDs go on to become tenure-tracked professors, yet this is the default career for which graduate students and postdocs are trained. Harvard postdocs Jessica Polka and Kristen Krukenberg believe that it’s time for researchers at all levels to face the new realities and, to that end, they initiated a dialogue about the “Future of Research,” pulling in leaders in the biomedical research enterprise to a special interest subgroup session at the ASCB/IFCB Meeting in Philadelphia on December 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

His parents were both physicians, and Jiaxi Wu says that, while they inspired him to learn more about disease, in the end, he decided to pursue a career not in clinical medicine but in biomedical research. So far, Wu is off to a flying start. He graduated first in his class in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the China Agricultural University in Beijing. A year later, he joined a PhD program in molecular biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the lab of Zhijian Chen. There, over three years, Wu discovered two novel innate immunity molecules, which led to his winning ASCB’s $1,000 Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter.

Cell biology is expanding, fusing with physics, coalescing with computational modeling, and bonding with bioinformatics. Yesterday Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC) rolled out a special quantitative biology issue, its first-ever “extra” edition, to encompass the broad new horizons of cell biology. The new issue features so many big names from cell biology and biophysics that, if “Quantitative Biology” were a Hollywood blockbuster, the science paparazzi would be stalking MBoC editor David Drubin.

Two long years in the South Korean military gave Eunyong Park time to change his mind and his career direction toward biology, a change that led to his winning this year’s $3,000 Kaluza prize for excellence in graduate research. Park won the ASCB Kaluza Prize, which is supported by Beckman Coulter, for his remarkable work at Harvard University deciphering the mechanisms of protein translocation in living cells. When cells make new proteins that are destined to reside in the membrane or enter the secretory pathway, they are threaded through channels in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).

Winners of a Nobel Prize typically get a private call from a member of the selection committee shortly before the news breaks to the public. But this year the Nobel committee couldn't reach W.E. Moerner, a professor of chemistry at Stanford University and an ASCB member. Moerner was in Recife, Brazil, on the morning of October 8, attending the Third International Workshop on Fundamentals of Light-Matter Interactions. Moerner had his cell phone turned off to save international roaming charges. So when it was announced that he was one of the three winners of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry it fell to the Associated Press to reach his wife, Sharon, at home with the news. She turned to WhatsApp to send him the message to turn on his phone. Moerner was thrilled to share his excitement with family, friends, and colleagues. His first call was to his son, Daniel, who is working toward a PhD in philosophy at Yale University.

The resolution of traditional light microscopy was long thought to be limited due to the maximum diffraction of light. But today's Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry changed that. William Moerner, Eric Betzig, and Stefan Hell won for cleverly circumventing this limit and imaging at a whole new scale known as nanomicroscopy or superresolution imaging. 

ASCB’s third annual We Are Research campaign needs you and your labmates to put a face on biomedical research. At your next lab meeting, lab happy hour, or lab karaoke party, round up the gang, snap a photo of your team, and submit it ASCB’s third annual We Are Research campaign needs you and your labmates to put a face on biomedical research. At your next lab meeting, lab happy hour, or lab karaoke party, round up the gang, snap a photo of your team, and submit it here by October 17. Last year’s We Are Research campaign collected 203 photos, which went to 418 members of Congress, showing them the real live people involved in biomedical research who live, work, and even vote in their home constituencies. It’s an effective reminder, according to ASCB’s science policy advocates.

Bruce Alberts, professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who served as ASCB president in 2007, was just named one of the nation's top scientists by President Obama. Alberts and nine others are recipients of the National Medal of Science, the Nation's highest honor for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. Alberts will be presented the medal in a ceremony at the White House later this year.

Eleanor (Josie) Clowney , a postdoc at Rockefeller University who did her graduate work at the University of California, San Francisco, has been named the winner of the 2014 $5,000 ASCB Kaluza Prize for outstanding research by a graduate student. The Kaluza Prizes are supported by Beckman Coulter. Clowney won for her breakthrough work on olfactory neurons performed in Stavros Lomvardas’ lab. Her work provides a new perspective on how acute transcriptional specificity can be achieved through epigenetic mechanisms.

Your latest western blot may be worth a thousand words but you will need to write1,000 words to go along with it. So how to choose which 1,000? To help with the essential task of writing up your latest research, we found some free advice (which will offset the cost of “free” open access publishing).

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