Prachee Avashthi’s nominator, Wallace Marshall, University of California, San Francisco, called her a star. He wrote: “She has proven a willingness to use any approach necessary to pursue the most important questions, and a complete fearlessness to go against prevailing dogma. At the same time, she has proven a highly effective mentor for her trainees, and a role model for both junior and senior investigators alike. In my opinion, she perfectly represents the qualities that the ASCB WICB Junior Award for Excellence in Research seeks to encourage.”
Avasthi is an associate professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, though she noted that the work recognized by this award was done at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she was until recently.
Using a unicellular green alga as a model system, her lab uses chemical biology, biochemistry, genetics, and quantitative live cell imaging to uncover novel mechanisms regulating assembly of the cilium. That work led to investigation of the intersection of the microtubule and actin cytoskeleton, as well as fundamental actin dynamics and function.
She stays busy outside the lab as well. An advocate for improved publication practices, she serves on the boards of directors for ASAPbio and eLife. She also founded New PI Slack, the online peer-mentoring community for junior faculty, and is on the steering committee of Rescuing Biomedical Research.
Avasthi said, “I am quite stunned to receive this award! The past winners are leaders in their fields such that none of the previous selections surprised me. I’m routinely inspired by the creativity and brilliance of others, so it means a lot to me that the colleagues I so respect see the beauty that I see in the science we’re uncovering. I am incredibly honored and am thrilled for my lab members, whose hard work is being recognized by this award. They deserve this.”
Her talk at Cell Bio Virtual 2020 will be on Cytoskeletal Diversity, Flexibility, and Functions.
About the Author:
Thea Clarke is the Director of Communications and Education at the American Society for Cell Biology.