ASCB Forms Task Force to Review Honorific Awards Portfolio


At its meeting last June the American Society for Cell Biology’s (ASCB) Council formed a task force to review its honorific awards portfolio, charged with undertaking a comprehensive review of the ways in which ASCB provides professional recognition to its members and submitting subsequent recommendations back to Council for future improvement. This action is being taken in part in response to concerns raised in recent years about the lack of racial and gender diversity in the nominees and the recipients of several of our awards,  particularly those that are intended to recognize cell biologists for their body of work over the course of their career.

Following an open call for volunteers, a task force comprised of Society Councilors, committee representatives, and members at large, has recently begun its work.

An important function of scientific societies is the recognition of excellence, and ASCB’s current awards portfolio includes recognition opportunities for cell biologists at all career levels. These awards acknowledge members’ scientific achievements, service to the Society, and contributions to the cell biology community. A goal of the task force will be to ensure that recognition happens in an equitable and transparent manner, reflects the full values of the Society, and aligns with ASCB’s mission and strategic plan.

Another task force goal will be to develop an award structure that addresses all of the ways people contribute to cell biology—including mentoring, teaching, outreach, public policy, and research. Such a structure should yield outcomes that embrace and reward excellence and does so in a way that reflects today’s diverse cell biology community and a desire for a better future for all.

The task force will conduct its work virtually via several video calls over the next several months. The intent is to provide Council with recommendations that can be implemented prior to the beginning of the next awards cycle in the Spring.

The task force will be chaired by William Bement, University of Wisconsin at Madison. Its members are:

Derek Applewhite, Reed College

Andrew Ewald, Johns Hopkins University

Tim Fessenden, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Erin Goley, Johns Hopkins University

Tama Hasson, University of California Los Angeles

Elisa Konieczko, Gannon University

Brian Lewis, University of Massachusetts

Samara Reck-Peterson, University of California San Diego

Shambaditya Saha, Institute of Molecular Biology

Susan Walsh, Soka University

Ora Weisz, University of Pittsburgh

Scott Wilkinson, National Institutes of Health


Feedback can be shared with the task force at

Click here to view ASCB’s diversity, equity, and inclusion action plan. To watch the recent town hall on the plan go here.

September 30, 2020

About the Author:

ASCB Director of Membership