Molly Hammell

Last week, computational biologist Molly Hammell was promoted to Associate Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) – what better way to honor her than with a #WiSEWednesday?! So this week we’re thrilled to tell you more about Dr. Hammell, an amazing scientist who’s also been a great advocate for WiSE and our mission.

Hammell’s background is a bit unconventional for a biologist – she earned a B.S. in physics from the College of William and Mary followed by a PhD in physics and astronomy from Dartmouth College in 2003. She then took a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth Medical School and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she developed algorithms for statistical analysis of regulatory RNA pathways.

She joined CSHL in 2010 and much of her current work focuses on transposable elements (TEs) – “parasitic” segments of DNA that can “jump” around in our genome. First discovered by another female scientist at CSHL, Barbara McClintock, TEs can cause problems if they jump into important places. Hammell’s lab uses computational and experimental techniques to study how our cells protect us from these TEs and what happens when these protections fail. In particular, she studies how TEs play a role in some cases of neurodegenerative diseases including ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

In 2014, the Rita Allen Foundation awarded Hammell its highest honor, a Milton E. Cassel Scholarship.

Congratulations Molly on your much-deserved promotion and we can’t wait to see the amazing work we’re sure you’ll continue to do!

Photo credit: CSHL

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