ASCB announces 2022 honorific awards and recognition

ASCB 2022 Honorific Award Winners
Top, L-R: Don Cleveland, David Asai, Renato Aguilera, Juan Bonafacino, Rebecca Heald, Shirin Bahmanyar Middle, L-R: Needhi Bhalla, George Langford, John Matsui, Gina Garcia, Erin Goley, Dorothy Lerit Bottom, L-R: Manuel Leonetti, Jayme Dyer, Jaye Gardiner, Ben Larson, Saket Rahul Bagde, Vilma Jimenez Sabinina

The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) recognizes 18 remarkable individuals for their various achievements in the realm of life sciences.

“ASCB honorific awards recognize individuals making important contributions to our community,” said ASCB CEO Rebecca Alvania. “The society honors those whose research significantly advances our understanding of the cell, whose dedication to cell biology education and mentoring prepares the next generation, whose commitment to public policy helps to advance biomedical research, and whose achievements in creating inclusive scientific cultures ensure ongoing progress in developing a more equitable and diverse community of cell biologists.”

The following people were recognized by either receiving an honorific award or being invited to present a keynote speech or lecture.

ASCB will feature profiles of some of these award winners on its website in the coming months. ASCB will mention winners throughout the 2022 Cell Bio meeting, December 3-7, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

E.B. Wilson Medal: Presented to distinguished researchers for their far-reaching contributions to cell biology over a lifetime in science.

Don W. Cleveland: Head, Laboratory of Cell Biology Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Distinguished Professor and Chair Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California, San Diego

Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education: Given to an individual who has demonstrated innovative and sustained contributions to science education, prioritizing the national impact of the nominee’s activities.

David J. Asai, Senior Director, Science Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

E.E. Just Lecture: Honoring the early 20th-century biologist Ernest Everett Just, who made foundational contributions to cell and developmental biology, to recognize the outstanding scientific achievements of a U.S. researcher belonging to a historically excluded racial or ethnic group. Awardee selected by the Minorities Affairs Committee.

Renato J. Aguilera, Deputy Research Director of the Border Biomedical Research Center (BBRC); Director of the Research Infrastructure Core and Cellular Characterization and Biorepository Unit of the BBRC; Director of the Biological Sciences Graduate Program; Director of the U-RISE and G-RISE NIH Training Programs at the University of Texas, El Paso

Keith R. Porter Lecture: Named in memory of Keith R. Porter and presented to an outstanding and innovative leader at the forefront of cell biology, actively contributing fundamental new knowledge to our understanding of cell biology.

Juan S. Bonifacino, Associate Scientific Director, Neurosciences and Cellular and Structural Biology Division; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health

Sandra K. Masur Senior Leadership Award: Bestowed by the Women in Cell Biology Committee (WICB) to any later-stage career scientist with outstanding scientific achievements and a record of active leadership in mentoring women and individuals from underrepresented groups.

Rebecca Heald, Professor, Co-chair, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

WICB Junior Award for Excellence in Research: Presented to a woman or non-binary person in an early stage of their career making exceptional scientific contributions to cell biology, developing a strong independent research program, and exhibiting the potential for continuing at a high level of scientific endeavor and leadership.

Shirin Bahmanyar, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University

Prize for Excellence in Inclusivity: Recognizing a scientist who has a strong track record in research or serves a critical role in fostering cell biology research and has demonstrated the importance of inclusion and diversity in science through mentoring, cultural change, outreach, or community service. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant funded this award.

Needhi Bhalla, Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Public Service Award:  Honoring national leadership and outstanding public service in support of biomedical research or advocacy of sound research policies. Awardee selected by the Public Policy Committee.

George Langford, Professor Emeritus of Biology, Syracuse University

Mentoring Keynote: An invited speaker who exemplifies mentoring by their impact on training scientists and scholars belonging to underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities. Awardee selected by the Minorities Affairs Committee.

John T. Matsui, Director, Biology Scholars Program and Assistant Dean, Biological Sciences, University of California, Berkeley

Scholarship of Diversity Keynote: An invited speaker chosen by the co-PIs of the Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training grant and approved by the Minorities Affairs Committee.

Gina Garcia, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Foundations, Organizations, and Policy, University of Pittsburgh

LGBTQ+ Keynote: An invited presenter chosen by members of the LGBTQ+ Committee.

Erin Goley, Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry, Director of Admissions, BCMB Graduate Program

Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Günter Blobel Early Career Award: Given to an outstanding early career life scientist who has served as an independent investigator for no more than seven years at the time of nomination.

Dorothy A. Lerit, Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Emory University School of Medicine

Innovation in Research: Recognizes early and mid-career scientists for their new and innovative research in cell biology. For this purpose, innovation is defined as an accomplishment that significantly impacts progress in advancing the field of cell biology and is based on work done within three years before the nomination.

Manuel (Manu) Leonetti, Group Leader II, Quantitative Cell Science, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub

Innovation in Education Award: Given to an individual demonstrating innovation in education, defined as a novel educational accomplishment significantly impacting achieving ASCB’s mission. The innovation should be aligned with the core tenets of the ASCB Declaration on Effective and Inclusive Undergraduate Biology Education.

Jayme Dyer, Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Biology, Durham Technical Community College              

Merton Bernfield Memorial Award: Established to honor outstanding postdocs or graduate students with member donations in memory of pediatrician and cell biologist Merton Bernfield.            

Jaye Gardiner, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Fox Chase Cancer Center

Porter Prizes for Research Excellence: Two prizes, one given to a graduate student and one to a postdoctoral researcher selected based on scientific excellence. In the spirit of Keith Porter, the emphasis will be on their contributions to the advancement of science and the novelty and creativity of their findings.

Ben T. Larson, postdoctoral scholar, University of California, San Francisco

Honorable mention: Arunika Das, University of Pennsylvania

Saket Rahul Bagde, PhD Candidate, Institution or Organization Affiliation: Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology, Cornell University

Honorable mentions: Lila Neahring, University of California, San Francisco; Andrés G. Samander, Yale University

Molecular Biology of the Cell Paper of the Year Award: Awarded to the first author on a paper (grad student or postdoc) chosen by the Editorial Board of ASCB’s basic science research journal, Molecular Biology of the Cell, as the best paper published from June of the previous year to May.

Vilma Jimenez Sabinina, Cell Biology & Biophysics Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany

“Three-dimensional superresolution fluorescence microscopy maps the variable molecular architecture of the nuclear pore complex.” https://doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E20-11-0728

About the Author:


Mary Spiro is ASCB's Strategic Communications Manager writing about science, member, and Society news; and managing ASCB's various social media accounts. Email: mspiro@ascb.org