ASCB Announces Fourth Annual Kaluza Prizes for Excellence in Graduate Student Research

The ASCB, in collaboration with Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, has announced the winners of the 2016 Kaluza Prizes for academic excellence in graduate student research. The three top finalists will receive cash prizes of $5,000, $3,000, and $1,000. In addition, seven other finalists have been named winners of the ASCB Beckman Coulter Distinguished Graduate Student Achievement Prize and will receive travel awards to attend the ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco. All 10 finalists will be recognized before the Keynote on Saturday, December 3 and will also be invited to speak at a Minisymposium supported by Beckman Coulter on Monday, December 5.
The ASCB Kaluza Prizes were launched in 2013 as part of a partnership between ASCB and Beckman Coulter to support excellence in science. The competition is open to ASCB members who are current graduate students or have graduated within two years at the time of application.

The three top finalists are:

Sudeep Banjade, now a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University, won for his graduate work in Michael Rosen’s lab at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center where he studied the molecular mechanisms behind phase-separation of multivalent signaling proteins. He discovered that assembly of the adhesion receptor Nephrin and its cytoplasmic partners Nck and N-WASP leads to phase-separation in solution and on model membranes, which can activate this signaling system in a switch-like fashion.

Kara McKinley,
a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Iain Cheeseman’s lab at the Whitehead Institute, won for her research on the key processes required for faithful chromosome segregation.

Anthony Szempruch,
now a postdoc at the California Institute of Technology, won for his graduate work in Stephen Hajduk’s lab at the University of Georgia on the protozoan Trypanosoma brucei, which causes African sleeping sickness. He showed that T. brucei produce membrane nanotubes, which vesicularize into free extracellular vesicles and interact with host membranes, causing anemia. These extracellular vesicles also interact with other trypanosomes, transferring resistance to human innate immunity.

The seven finalists who are winners of the ASCB Beckman Coulter Distinguished Graduate Student Achievement Prize are:

Tyler Allen, a graduate student in Ke Cheng’s lab at North Carolina State University, won for discovering a novel mechanism that non-leukocytic cells employ to transmigrate from blood vessels to surrounding tissue when injected intravenously.

Daria Bonazzi, a postdoc at the Pasteur Institute, won for her graduate work in Nicolas Minc’s lab at the Insitut Jacques Monod where she defined the mechanisms underlying symmetry breaking in spore germination in Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

Xin Jin, a graduate student in Cori Bargmann’s lab at The Rockefeller University, won for mapping distinct groups of neurons required for the formation and retrieval of an imprinted memory and defining genes required uniquely for imprinting in Caenorhabditis elegans.

Gaowen Liu, a graduate student in Giulia Rancati’s lab at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore, won for showing that the deletion of some “essential” yeast genes can be overcome by adaptive evolution and that essentiality is not an inherent gene property but depends on the cellular capacity to adaptively evolve.

Jason Sheltzer, now a principal investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, won for his graduate research in Angelika Amon’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on aneuploidy. He discovered that aneuploidy induces a transcriptional stress response that is well-conserved among eukaryotes.

A. Catalina Velez-Ortega,
a postdoc at the University of Kentucky, won for her graduate research at the University of Kentucky where she discovered a novel mechanism of cochlear regulation that protects the organ of Corti after acoustic trauma.

Anatoly Zaytsev, a postdoc at University of Pennsylvania, won for his graduate work at the Russian Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania where he identified a novel regulatory mechanism that ensures accurate control of kinetochore-microtubule affinity via tuning of the NDC80 complex.



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