It is the Talk of Talks. Win the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology and you get an hour in the brand new 1,000-seat Aula Medica of the Karolinska Institutet in which to explain the science that earned your airfare to Stockholm. In your Nobel lecture, you can thank your mentors, colleagues, and former labbies plus include a wave hello to family. You can also point out the philosophical implications of your work or issue a dire warning.
Tina Han, postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), found out that she'd just won $5,000 on Facebook. It wasn't a holiday giveaway or a scam. It was a missed voice mail from ASCB and a friend's quick Facebook message that Han was the winner of ASCB's $5,000 Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter for outstanding research as a graduate student.
You finished all your replicates, your data are entered into your favorite statistical software, and you've got your fingers crossed that the test reveals a P-value of less than 0.05. It reads 0.039 and you breathe a sigh of relief. Without that P-value, you would have been stuck with your null hypothesis—that terrible possibility that your observed effect was meaningless. Instead, with the P-value on your side, you're finally ready to publish a significant observation. That is, unless you show it to Valen Johnson, a statistics professor at Texas A&M University, who has just published an analysis in PNAS1 that indicates your data are not so convincing.
Tina W. Han, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who did her graduate work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern), has been named the winner of the first $5,000 ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter for outstanding research by a graduate student. Han won for her breakthrough work on the functional characterization of RNA granules while in Steven McKnight's lab at UT Southwestern. Nine additional Kaluza entrants were named winners of ASCB Beckman Coulter Distinguished Graduate Student Achievement Prizes, which will include travel awards to attend the 2014 ASCB Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
It was in San Diego and nearly 40 years ago but Randy Schekman still vividly remembers his first ASCB Annual Meeting. George Palade, fresh from Stockholm where he had just received his 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was there to speak about the innovations in electron microscopy and cell fractionation that earned him the prize. Schekman has no better word for the experience than "thrilling."
Sydney Brenner is, of course, the Nobel Prize winner who brought us Caenorhabditis elegans, the lab model organism. That should make Brenner "a man who needs no introduction" except in cell biology where historical amnesia is as common as Pipetman. As Brenner himself noted last year in Science, "I once remarked that all graduate students in biology divide history into two epochs: the past two years and everything else before that, where Archimedes, Newton, Darwin, Mendel—even Watson and Crick—inhabit a time-compressed universe as uneasy contemporaries."
The ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter is named for the German mathematician Theodor Kaluza (1885-1954), who is the namesake of Beckman Coulter's flow cytometry software system. The posthumous reputation of Kaluza, who was not a biologist but a German mathematician, has been on the rise in recent years, and the eponymous honor of a $5,000 cash prize for scientific achievement for an ASCB graduate student is only the latest feather.
Big discoveries can turn up in unexpected places, such as neurons of the Pacific electric ray, Torpedo californica. That was the start of Richard H. Scheller's path to the 2013 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, which he received last week. Along with Thomas C. Südhof of Stanford University, Scheller won for their independent investigations into the regulatory mechanisms of neurotransmitter release.
Renato J. Aguilera, Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and chair of the ASCBs Minorities Affairs Committee, will receive the SACNAS 2013 Distinguished Research Mentor Award. SACNAS was founded in 1973 as the Society for the Advancement of Chicano & Native Americans in Science. An ASCB member since 1990, Aguilera directs the Biology Graduate program at UTEP, which has grown to include more than 50 PhD students, half from underrepresented minorities in science. Aguilera also directs the NIH funded Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement and a National Science Foundation S-STEM grant, which have funded the training of more than 100 undergraduates. More than half of those trainees have continued on to graduate programs. Aguilera himself decided to pursue a career in research with encouragement from SACNAS founding member Eppie Rael.
David Odde may be the first scientist whose lab meetings include a dance company. Four years ago Odde, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota and ASCB member, started collaborating with Black Label Movement (BLM); a Twin Cities-based dance theater. Together they use dance to simulate molecular processes.