As part of the CSHL scientific seminars, WiSE hosts prominent female scientists who have contributed to the advancement of women in science to present their research.
Kristi S. Anseth
Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering University of Colorado, Boulder
January 11, 2018
On January 11, we hosted biochemical engineer Dr. Kristi S. Anseth as our first McClintock lecturer of 2018. In her position as Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Associate Faculty Director of the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Anseth works at the intersection of biology, chemistry, and engineering to develop more realistic ways to study biological processes outside the body (in vitro instead of in vivo).
The ability to grow, observe, and manipulate cells in a dish has allowed scientists to perform experiments once only dreamed of and, in doing so, make fundamental discoveries and test disease treatments. However, there are serious limitations to studying plated cells, including the lack of a realistic environment outside of the cell (the extracellular matrix or ECM). Scientists have worked to mimic aspects of the ECM using gel-like substances called hydrogels, but these are usually static materials that, while allowing cells to grow and interact in three dimensions, can’t reflect the dynamic nature of a true ECM. This is a critical problem because it’s becoming increasingly clear that the ECM plays important roles in diverse processes, including the development and spread of cancer.
With her background in chemical engineering (a B.S. from Purdue followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado) Anseth realized that she could develop chemical tools to manipulate these hydrogels to meet the unique needs of each experiment. For example, she has designed hydrogels whose “stiffness” can be fine-tuned (reversibly) using light, as well as customizable scaffolds with pore sizes to mimic various tissue types. In her lecture, “Dynamic Hydrogel Matrices: Cell Biology in the Fourth Dimension,” Anseth showed that she knows how to work a broad audience, including a little something for everyone; cancer researchers hung to her every word while she described how hydrogels could better mimic the tumor microenvironment. Developmental biologists were enthralled as she showed a hydrogel capable of restricting cell lineages. Biochemists’ hearts warmed at the sight of her clever chemical reaction schemes. It was a packed house, but sitting on the floor or standing was well worth it!
Every year, WiSE hosts two women scientists who are pioneers in their field as “McClintock lecturers,” an award given in honor of groundbreaking geneticist and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory alumnus Barbara McClintock. In addition to giving a labwide seminar, McClintock lecturers are wined and dined by WiSE, where we are honored to be able to get to know more about them in a less formal environment. In addition to being named a McClintock lecturer, Anseth’s numerous honors include induction into the National Academies of Engineering, Medicine, Sciences, and Inventors. After hearing her lecture, it’s no surprise that she has also received multiple awards for excellence in teaching. It was a great honor to host her!
Vist Photos Credit: Jue X. Wang
Professor and Project Leader John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
February 22, 2018
Cellular and developmental biologist Caroline Dean studies the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms by which external temperature regulates the timing of plant reproduction, increasingly relevant with global climate change affecting crop production. Her work has led to important insights into chromatin regulation and evolutionary adaptation in a variety of species.
Dr. Dean is a Professor and Project Leader at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. She has received numerous honors including election to national academies in the UK, US, and Germany. Last year, she was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Dean has been a great advocate for the advancement of women in science, with a strong history of providing inspiration and career guidance to girls and young women. For this work, she received the FEBS|EMBO Women in Science Award in 2014 and was recently named a 2018 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science laureate.
HHMI Investigator, Professor, Rockefeller University
January 26, 2017
The Vosshall lab studies how complex behaviors are controlled by cues from the environment and modulated by internal physiological state. Working with Drosophila Melanogaster flies, mosquitoes and human subjects, Dr. Vosshall's research yielded new knowledge about how sensory stimuli are processed and perceived.
To learn more about her research: http://vosshall.rockefeller.edu/
Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
March 17, 2017
Dr. Greider's lab is focused on understanding telomerase and cellular and organismal consequences of telomere dysfunction. To examine telomere function, her lab uses biochemistry assays, yeast, and mice. Carol discovered the enzyme telomerase in 1984, and was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, along with Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak, for their discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. To learn more about her research: http://www.greiderlab.org/
Ann Graybiel, Professor,
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
February 2, 2016
On February 2, 2016 WiSE hosted Dr. Ann Graybiel as the first McClintock Lecturer! Ann Graybiel studies the basal ganglia, forebrain structures that are profoundly important for normal brain function but are also implicated in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction. Graybiel’s work is uncovering neural deficits related to these disorders, as well as the role the basal ganglia play in guiding normal behavior.
To learn more about her research: http://mcgovern.mit.edu/principal-investigators/ann-graybiel