"I grew up in a very big family in a very small house," says Lydia Villa-Komaroff. That house was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where few Mexican-American kids like herself were lucky to even finish high school. But Villa-Komaroff knew from a young age that she wanted to become a scientist. She remembers when she was nine, hearing her uncle talking about his work as a chemist and deciding that this sounded like the career for her. "All children are scientists, but... I think it gets lost because people forget about the excitement and the joy of discovery," she says. "I wanted to continue to explore things, take them apart, put them back together."
Fishermen can tell you many tales of the teleosts but most cell biologists know but one—the zebrafish. That's a shame, says John Postlethwait, professor of biology at the University of Oregon, who made his scientific mark with the zebrafish but is a fan of a much wider circle of the teleosts, ray-finned fish whose ranks include nearly all of the important sport or commercial bony fish on Earth. Postlethwait thinks there are discoveries to be made amongst the lesser-known teleosts. Consider the blackfin icefish, a three-foot long, shovel-jawed fish that once almost set an Antarctic research station on fire. The blackfin icefish may hold clue to osteoporosis, he says.
The 40 came from all over North America, Europe, and Africa, 24 grad students and 16 postdocs, chosen from the 532 applications the ASCB received from members for a special 12-day "short" course on "Managing Science in the Biotech Industry" at the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) with funding from EMD Millipore. Besides their ASCB connection, what the participants had in common were years of academic training and a curiosity about life in biotech.
Sometimes in science it pays to turn over a new leaf or an old laboratory animal. Stephen M. King at the University of Connecticut Health Center recently turned over planarian Schmidtea mediterranea, the nonparasitic flatworm justly renowned for its incredible regenerative powers, and saw on its underside a new way into a old problem. King, who is an ASCB member, believes that planaria could be an alternate model system for studying ciliary motility and its associated diseases now known as ciliopathies.
Sebastian Mana-Capelli of the University of Massachusetts Medical School was named by the Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC) Editorial Board as recipient of the 23nd annual MBoC Paper of the Year Award. As a postdoc in Dannel McCollum's lab, Mana-Capelli was first author of the article "Angiomotins link F-actin architecture to Hippo pathway signaling" (Mol. Biol. Cell 25, 1676–1685).
Yale professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and ASCB member, Joan Argetsinger Steitz has been elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in the UK. Steitz was an early pioneer in RNA biology, discovering much of the machinery and key players in RNA splicing. She went onto elucidate the role of small nucleic ribonucleoparticles (snRNPs or "snurps") in modifying non-coding introns and continues her work on microRNAs in gene regulation. The Royal Society membership joins a long list of Steitz's honors and awards including the Gairdner International Award in 2006 and the ASCB's highest scientific honor, the E.B. Wilson Medal, in 2005.
ASCB President-Elect Peter Walter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is the co-winner of the 2014 Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine. Walter, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, will share the $1 million Shaw Prize with Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University for their work on the unfolded protein response (UPR), the cell's quality control response to an accumulation of defectively folded proteins.
David L. Spector of the Cold Springs Harbor Lab (CSHL), a scientist long known for his pioneering work in live cell imaging of the nucleus and its surprisingly fluid geography and population, has been named to a pair of prestigious memberships, one in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the other in EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organization. Spector, who is both a professor and Director of Research at CSHL, has been an ASCB member since 1980. He chaired the ASCB Annual Meeting program committee in 2008 and served on ASCB's governing Council from 2010 to 2012.
The first line of Franklin Carrero-Martínez's CV is a showstopper—"Scientist, Diplomat and Educator with a Ph.D. in Neurobiology." But he comes by all of it honestly. As of this writing, Carrero- Martínez, who is in his second year as a AAAS Science & Technology (S&T) Policy Fellow, is in Mexico City. He has been officially posted for two months to the U.S. Embassy there by the U.S. State Department to advise on Environment, Science, Technology and Health (ESTH) issues, including working on a Mexican version of our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) technology transfer program. It's a policy level program to encourage Mexican researchers to bring new ideas out of their academic laboratories and into real world applications. U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed on sharing this and other technology ideas in talks last May. As a Senior Science Policy Advisor in the Office of the Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary (STAS for those keeping acronym score), Carrero- Martínez is in Mexico City to make it happen.
Before that, Carrero-Martínez held the Pakistan S&T portfolio at both the U.S State Department and the U.S. National Academies of Science. That was during his first year in Washington as a Roger Revelle Fellow in Global Stewardship, a special AAAS policy fellowship program for early career faculty. As a Revelle Fellow, Carrero-Martínez was free to find his own placements. He ended up with two and with two offices—one at the State Department and one at the U.S. National Academy of Science (NAS). In both places, Carrero-Martínez picked up the Pakistan S&T portfolio, which was an orphan. "I guess no one wanted Pakistan because it was so hard. But I found it not to be too difficult. I guess I enjoy the higher adrenalin of dealing with complex issues and walking that line."
If cells were cars, then the three pioneering cell biologists just named winners of the 2014 E.B. Wilson Medal, the highest scientific honor of the American Society for Cell Biology, helped write the essential parts list. William "Bill" Brinkley of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, John Heuser of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Peter Satir of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx identified crucial pieces of the cytoskeleton, the cell's shape-shifting framework, and showed how these elements drive life at the cellular level.