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Dear AWIS-SD Members and Friends,
Happy 2019! I hope everyone is off to a great start, personally and professionally. 2018 was a great year for AWIS-SD and 2019 will be even better!
I would like to thank all of our volunteers that run AWIS-SD. Our organization flourishes with our volunteers’ time and effort and our gracious corporate sponsors.
by Juliati Rahajeng
The annual AWIS-SD Open House was held at the lobby of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine on November 14, 2018. Over 120 AWIS-SD members and non-members registered and attended the event. Sandwiches, wraps, cheese platters, fruits, and non-alcoholic beverages were served.
Tables were set for AWIS-SD Committees, which included: Newsletter, Website, Corporate Sponsorship, Public Relations, Outreach, Scholarship, Events, Academia to Industry, Strategy Sessions, and AWIS-SD Leadership Network. Each committee was represented by its co-chairs, who enthusiastically explained the committee’s goals and activities, and how new members can contribute to the success of AWIS-SD’s programming. In addition to the committees’ tables, two of AWIS-SD’s Sponsors, UCSD Extension and Hera Hub, also hosted tables to welcome Open House attendees.
Over 20 silent auction items were collected to help raise funds for AWIS-SD activities, including AWIS-SD annual scholarships, outreach activities, professional development workshops, and networking events organized throughout the year. The silent auction items were donated by AWIS-SD members (Grace Nakayama, Kristina Henthorn, Dorothy Sears, Corine Lau, and Juliati Rahajeng) and local and national organizations/corporations (La Jolla Playhouse, Del Mar Photographics, Bristol Farms, In-N-Out Burger, Curves, The Stronghold, Hera Hub, Alvarado Skin Institute, Picaboo, and PRP Wine International). The silent auction brought in about $900, almost enough to award one AWIS-SD scholarship!
Before the conclusion of the event, AWIS-SD President Courtney Benson recognized longtime AWIS-SD members and outstanding volunteers. Awards were presented to the following:
• 30-year AWIS-SD member: Lynne Friedmann
• 25-year AWIS-SD member: Susan Forsburg
• 10-year AWIS-SD member: Yvonne Lee, Kristina Henthorn, Katherine Ruby, and Maki Kaneko
• 5-year AWIS-SD member: Paige Stout, Christine Esau, Christine Gonzalez, Radhika Gopal, Peggy Marino, and Georgina Salazar
• Rookie of the Year: Alina Luk and Valeria Viscardi
• Leadership Service: Varykina Thackray and Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk
• Achievement in Outreach or Community Service: Alyson Smith
• Outstanding Volunteer: Dieanira Erudaitius, Adina Gerson, and Alison Huang
• Board Special Award: Juliati Rahajeng
• President’s Award: Robyn Wygal
The event was an absolute success thanks to the 2018 Open House Committee Chair and members: Christina C. Niemeyer, DeeAnn Visk, Kristin Bompiani-Myers, Chistina Grobin, Juliati Rahajeng, Ye Zhang, Kelly Kemp, Jennifer Hanson, Aubrey Haddach, and Deepa Hammaker, and AWIS-SD Sponsors: UCSD Extension, ThermoFisher Scientific, Hologic, Hera Hub, Celgene, Beckman Coulter Foundation, Vertex, Quidel, Qualcomm, General Atomics, Takeda, BioLegend, Innovio, and Lynne Friedmann.
by Anita Pottekat
San Diego celebrated National Chemistry week with Chem Expo on the beautiful campus of Miramar College on Saturday, October 27, 2018. The American Chemical Society (ACS) and many other local organizations like AWIS-SD came together to spread chemistry awareness with various on-stage demonstrations and hands-on activities for middle and high school students. The buzz and excitement around chemistry that filled the campus was truly reflective of this year’s theme: “Chemistry is out of this world.”
AWIS-SD enlisted the detective skills of youth and adults alike with our activity station focused on identifying a mystery liquid and solid. First, students were given three known solids or liquids and asked to note their physical appearance. The students tested the solids’ solubility in water and in vinegar, and performed an iodine test to check the starch content. For liquids, the students tested acidity using pH paper and reactivity with sodium bicarbonate. These tests were then carried out with the mystery solid or liquid to scientifically determine the identity of the unknown substance. These activities led to discussions on acid-base reactions, chemical versus physical properties, and how to record observations and draw conclusions.
To draw connections with real life experiences, the starch content in green versus ripe bananas was also determined using the iodine test. We discussed how the high starch content observed in green bananas is converted to sugar upon ripening. We also demonstrated how vinegar can be used to determine the carbonate content in chalk, a technique commonly used by geologists to determine composition of rocks. This chemical reaction also explains the effect of acid rain on rocks and monuments.
The color change of the pH paper and the bubbling of sodium bicarbonate with vinegar brought excitement not only in the high and middle schoolers, but also in the parents and young siblings accompanying them. The AWIS-SD booth was busy during the event with over 200 students visiting the booth. The organizers of the AWIS-SD booth, Anita Pottekat and Laure Kayser, are very thankful to all the volunteers without whom this event would not have been possible: Kristin Bompiani-Myers, Isabela Avila, Mariko Hattori, Robyn Wygal, Alina Luk, Danielle Burner, Catherine Etchechury, Leane Nguyen, Beril Polat, Shelby Stavretis, and Sam Karmia.
by Ksenya Cohen Katsenlson
On Wednesday November 28, 2018, the events committee organized a succulent planting event for the holidays. The event was sponsored by VWR, which covered the expenses of the entire event, and Hera Hub, which shared its lovely venue. Light snacks were served. The registration was limited to 20 people and the attendance was full. Out of the 20 participants, seven were non AWIS-SD members.
The succulent planting was led by Stacy Pham, Validation Project Manager & Regional Lead at Delta Project Management. Pham has been an essential volunteer with the Events Committee in the past few months helping with organizing and advertising. Pham gave detailed step-by-step instructions on how to plant the succulents, provided information on their care, and answered all questions.
The lovely succulent pots were decorated with holiday decorations provided by VWR. The participants sat around two large tables, which enabled plenty of interactions and networking opportunities. Thank you to all the members of Events Committee for taking part in organizing this successful event: Valeria Viscardi, Ksenya Cohen Katsenelson, Adina Gerson-Gurwitz, and Ray Seraydarian.
by Qiong Song
Dr. Weiping Jiang, the Vice President of Biomarker Discovery at BioLegend, along with his two junior colleagues from BioLegend, joined AWIS SD for an academia to industry coffee chat at Bella Vista café on November 7, 2018. Jiang shared with attendees his transition from academia to industry, the workflow in industrial biomarker discovery, and other experiences that are of interest to STEM students and postdocs who are looking to transition into industry.
Jiang’s transition from academia to industry started with a family decision. Twenty years ago, Jiang was a faculty member at Penn State College of Medicine teaching graduate/medical students and directing research on proteases, mucins, and carbonic anhydrases. His wife was offered a job from a biotech company near Minneapolis. She accepted the job with Dr. Jiang’s full support and the family planned to reunite after a year when Dr. Jiang found a new job in the area. Two weeks later, Dr. Jiang received an invitation for an interview at R&D Systems, a Minneapolis company with plans to develop products for protease research. After receiving an offer from the company, he decided to close his lab and helped his technician find a job. It took him one month to complete these activities before starting his 20-year journey in the biotech industry, first at R&D Systems and later at BioLegend where he focused on assay development.
Jiang shared the general workflow in a typical reagent company (e.g., Target Identification -> Development à Manufacturing -> Quality Control). Every year, Biolegend offers >1000 new products including proteins, antibodies and assay kits to research community. One key factor of working in the biotech industry is anticipating the needs of researchers, their main customers. Jiang follows >10 journals regularly (JBC, Nature, Science, BMC, etc.) and keeps close contact with experts by regular conversations and attending relevant conferences. His knowledge and intuitive decisions led his teams to launch >2,000 new products in the last 20 years.
Jiang also encouraged PhDs and Postdocs to look for jobs in industry since they are needed in many different areas such as product/business development, quality, marketing, sales and technical services and they can have fulfilling careers by helping advance science and medicine. He said, “Best leaders need to know enough science.” He encouraged attendees to contact him for further questions. From him, we can see a dedicated scientist, teacher, and leader working in the biotech industry.
Introducing AWIS-SD member spotlight! Learn about how AWIS-SD helped our committee members, board members, and members grow their professional and personal networks!
Scientist, Microprotein Research
I was the recipient of the 2017 AWIS-SD Scholarship Honorable Mention and was awarded membership to AWIS-SD. I have been a member since and actively involved in mentoring young girls for a successful career in STEM fields. AWIS-SD has been instrumental to me in providing a very supportive environment to network and to seek mentorship.
As a Life Science Consultant at Deloitte Management Consulting, one of the top consulting firms globally, I'm advising top pharmaceutical companies on their R&D and Innovation Strategies. Prior to that, I completed my Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from UC San Diego and Salk Institute for Biological Studies at the age of 25. As a doctoral researcher, I published extensively on microproteins in top scientific journals and have been honored multiple awards such as Women in Science Award (Salk Institute). I hold a bachelor’s degree from Indian Institute of Technology, where I was also awarded the Khorana Scholarship by Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.
Apart from Science, I’m fond of good food and enjoy creating modern Indian recipes. Like most millennials, I’m also passionate about traveling. With 12 countries checked off, I’m looking to add more to the list this year.
Chemistry, Materials Science
Outreach Committee Member
I became a member of AWIS in 2017 and I have since organized parts of the AWIS STEM Career Conference and Chem Expo at Miramar College. I love AWIS because I get to meet talented women from all STEM backgrounds!
Post-doc in NanoEngineering
I joined UC San Diego in 2016 after my Ph.D. in polymer chemistry. My research focuses on developing stretchable materials for wearable electronics. I plan on pursuing my career in academia and advancing research in bioelectronics.
When I am not playing with colorful chemicals, I enjoy biking, hiking, and gardening. And like a lot of other chemists, I spend my free time cooking, baking, and enjoying craft beers.
Former Co-Chair, AWIS-SD Public Relations
Founding President of the AWIS-Kentucky Affiliate
AWIS provided an opportunity for me to network with other women in STEM and build a local community.
Policy & Advocacy Fellow, Society for Neuroscience (SfN)
I have successfully transitioned from academia into a science policy career. SfN members work to raise global support for investment in basic research & neuroscience discovery. I provide staff support for special and on-going projects within this context.
I enjoy cuddling with my dogs and taking them for walks. I also love photography, baking, reading Dan Brown books, and watching movies with a clever plot that keeps me guessing.
by Aarti Narang
On October 12, 2018, Academia to Industry (A2I) club organized a tour of the Takeda facility in San Diego, which was attended by 20 people. The tour consisted of a brief introduction followed by an exposure of the Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) and compound management facilities. The tour ended with a panel discussion.
The introduction by Ruhi Kamran outlined the areas of focus for Takeda Global: immuno-oncology, gastroenterology (GI), and neuroscience. Takeda’s R&D site in San Diego is primarily focused on GI and neuroscience research, and serves as an interface for the dynamic San Diego and San Francisco biotechnology ecosystems. Ruhi explained the three phases of drug development and the amount of time each phase takes. This made the attendees appreciate the breadth of processes involved in drug development. For the tour of the facility, our group was divided into two groups. One group went to the DMPK facility first before going to the Compound Management facility, while the second group toured the Compound Management first.
The tour of the DMPK facility familiarized attendees with the steps of pharmacokinetic studies that take place in Takeda. The scientists assess the chemical properties of the compounds, through in vitro and in vivo safety studies, which are then used to determine the doses that will be administered to humans. These studies provide information regarding the stability and permeability of the drug. Various routes, concentration, and timing of drug administrations are tested in animals and metabolites of the parent compound are assessed using mass spectrometry. Higher doses of compounds are used to determine drug tolerability and toxicology. The half-life and distribution of the drug are critical to determine whether the compounds can proceed to next steps. The translational research and biomarker discovery unit at Takeda attempts to interpret these findings in the context of human disease. During Phase-1, a safe dose of the compound is determined by assessing its biodistribution and metabolism.
The compound management unit is where the samples are coded and stored. The unit also determines the structure of the drugs using state of the art X-ray crystallographic and robotic systems. In this unit, proteins are crystalized and 3D structures are analyzed to study the protein-protein interactions.
The last part of the tour was a panel discussion. The panel consists of Dr. Andrea Fanjul (GI Immunology), Dr. Sreeja Gopal (Early Biomarker discovery), Anne Kanta (Associate Scientist) and Dr. Beibei Cai Senior Scientist (Discovery Toxicology). The panelists provided a description of what their roles entail at Takeda. They also provided unique insights into their career paths and how they attained their current position.
by Sabrina Treadwell
We all have been at one point in our careers asking ourselves questions like: ’What am I going to do next?’ OR ‘How do I going to get to the next step?’ In the December 2018 Strategy Session, a panel of non-academic research professionals shared valuable tips on how to answer these and related questions.
Our panelists were Roanna Padre (Director of Product and Commercial Strategy at GenomeDx), Stephanie Pinkerton (Senior Scientist at Pfizer Centers for Therapeutic Innovation), Liz Wilson (Principal Scientist at Pfizer Centers for Therapeutic Innovation), Adriana Bankston (Policy & Advocacy Fellow, Society for Neuroscience), and Marisa L. Martino (Technical Sales Specialist at Thermo Fisher). Despite having different positions in various companies, everyone agreed that connections are key to their success. Connect with others by attending networking events or mobilizing existing contacts. Employ their experience and influence, be persistent and assertive while seeking the information and support you need to get ahead.
Another piece of great advice was to learn how to promote yourself, something that females tend to be less confident at. This became clear when the panel asked whether or not you should only apply for a job when you have eight out of ten of the desired skills. The answer is NO, the ideal candidate does not exist. Win them over with your technical skills as well as your transferable and interpersonal skills. In addition, interviews go both ways; if you do not get a good vibe from the people you met at the interview, ask yourself whether the culture would be a good fit for you.
The main take home message of this well-received session is: get out of your comfort zone, find your motivation, and find a boss that supports your career.
by Shelby Stavretis and Yuesong Shi
On Saturday, December 1, 2018, The Known Experience held a STEM career bootcamp for graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and advanced-degree graduates at Canyon Vista, UC San Diego. The bootcamp’s Founder & Chief Career Strategist Joe Cribari developed this event to help attendees develop career-thinking acumen to make the transition out of academia. This half-day event was composed of small group discussions and career-related exercises led by professionals from the industry. Following a structured agenda, participants had the chance to receive immediate advice from industry professionals.
The day started with a breakfast mixer where participants had a chance to network with industry professionals, who transitioned out of academia and are currently working in various positions in STEM-related industries. The breakfast mixer was followed by individual reflection sessions. Small groups were formed in which participants worked together on exercises, such as how to overcome major career doubts. Jon, who is a scientist at Illumina, led the discussion of one group and provided thoughtful feedback. He also helped participants in tailoring their answers and raised useful points when they were asked for strategies on how to stand out during an interview process. After the first session, each group moved to a different table to join the next discussion exercise led by a different industry professional. One of the professionals, Marty, shared her experience in transitioning from academia to industry and described her typical work day at Illumina.
This bootcamp offered a great opportunity for participants to reflect on themselves and gain confidence when transitioning out of academia. By the end of the event, the participants were given tools to make their career aspirations a reality. The event also provided a chance to connect with fellow graduate students, PhD graduates, and postdocs.
After the event, Shelby was given the opportunity to interview the organizer, Joe Cribari.
Q: What inspired you to start The Known Experience bootcamps?
A: It was the dynamic and growing community of students, graduates and employers doing cutting-edge research on our Torrey Pines Research Mesa. I came to UC San Diego in 2007 and for over a decade had the distinct opportunity and pleasure supporting students-- especially PhD student researchers and scholars--in successfully transitioning to satisfying careers in diverse industries and professions. I also worked closely with them and their employers following graduation, as a director of employer and alumni relations. This experience uniquely qualified and positioned me to implement and develop an innovative strategy to better connect and nurture a valued ecosystem to help meet the talent and workforce development needs in San Diego.
Q: What do you hope participants gained from the bootcamp experience?
A: That more than ever students and scholars just like them have successful and satisfying careers in a diverse number of industries and professions. The industry professionals understand the many and various challenges current PhD students and postdoctoral scholars face, especially when looking beyond the traditional and often expected trajectory of an academic career. They appreciate your talent and value and are often thrilled to share their career knowledge and best practices, give a behind-the-scenes look into their work, and “open doors” to top employers in San Diego and beyond.
Q: What's your biggest piece of advice for PhDs making the transition into the workforce?
A: Start early in your PhD career, to make the unknown known in every aspect of your career preparation, search and transition. Plus, you don't have to do it alone. Like the professionals that take time out of their busy schedules to help facilitate our bootcamps, there are many more willing to share their experience and provide support. There's nothing more valuable than speaking with someone who is doing what you aspire to do in your career.
Q: What impact do you hope the The Known Experience provides for the PhD community in San Diego?
A: San Diego is a dynamic and growing innovation hub, especially in biotech, data science, and IT. The Known Experience’s mission is to help catalyze and nurture the large and talented PhD research community of students, scholars, professionals, and employers to offer a valued and sustainable ecosystem that leads the way in talent and workforce development. With the logistically close proximity of the entities making up this community, San Diego is uniquely positioned to continue to attract and, more importantly, retain some of the top student and research talent in the world.
Q: What events does The Known Experience have planned for 2019?
A: We plan to offer our Career Connect Bootcamp every 4-6 weeks. Our next one is scheduled for February 23rd, 2019. We are also looking to co-host, along with Bella Vista Social Club Cafe, at least two larger career and professionally-focused gatherings, which offer our bootcamp participants and other students and postdoctoral scholars on the Research Mesa the chance to connect with local professional peers from diverse industries and professions, employers, and other key workforce development “champions” and stakeholders.
We also plan to launch a podcast this spring, offering interesting and unique career-focused discussions with PhD professionals, startup founders, and employers in San Diego, and beyond!
by Alyson Smith
- A research team led by Kim Cooper of UC San Diego has developed a method to create gene drives in mice. This technology — first reported in insects by Ethan Bier and Valentino Gantz of UCSD in 2015 — uses CRISPR/Cas9 to accelerate the spread of selected gene(s) through populations of animals. The researchers hope to use gene drives to construct mouse models of complex, multigenic diseases, such as diabetes or cancer.
- A research team led by Yang Xu of UC San Diego has found that drugs promoting the function of p53, a tumor suppressor mutated in many cancers, can have unintended consequences. When the researchers restored p53 function in liver cancer cells, the cells began producing energy through oxygen-independent glycolysis. This could promote cancer growth in oxygen-poor tumors.
- The 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government, which ended on January 25th, slowed down San Diego science. It delayed payment of grants (including the salaries of some local scientists) and shut down agencies involved in public stock offerings. Although the shutdown has ended, it could have lasting effects on long-term projects such as international research expeditions from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
- A research team led by UC San Diego scientists has developed a potential treatment for spinal cord injury. They implanted a 3D printed, biologically compatible implant filled with neural stem cells into completely severed rat spinal cords. The implant helped the stem cells mature into neurons and connect severed nerves while supporting the growth of blood vessels to nourish the new neurons. The treatment restored partial mobility to the rats’ lower limbs. The next step is to repeat this study in monkeys, with a long-term goal of human clinical trials.
- Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have predicted that climate change will reduce the frequency of hot, dry Santa Ana winds in the coming decades by reducing the frequency of the high-pressure systems that create them. While not removing the risk of wildfires, these changes could affect the timing and severity of future California wildfire seasons.
- The Allen Institute, founded by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, recently announced the creation of the Allen Institute for Immunology. This initiative will bring together researchers at UC San Diego and four other research centers to study networks of immune cells and signalling pathways in healthy volunteers and patients at risk for developing cancer or autoimmune diseases. The studies will track how the immune system changes over time, especially during disease progression.
- Former Salk Institute scientist Beverly Emerson settled her gender discrimination lawsuit against Salk in November. As with the lawsuits filed by current Salk scientists Katherine Jones and Vicki Lundblad, which were settled in August, the settlement terms were not made public. Emerson moved to Oregon Health Sciences University in late 2017 when her contract with Salk expired and was not renewed.
- A study led by Jerold Chun of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute reported genetic recombination in the gene encoding the Alzheimer’s disease-related protein amyloid precursor protein (APP) in human neurons. Neurons from Alzheimer’s patients had increased genetic diversity in the APP gene, often leading to mutations already linked with Alzheimer’s. Chun and colleagues propose that using HIV drugs to inhibit reverse transcriptase, the enzyme that mediates this recombination, may treat or prevent Alzheimer’s.
1) Speed Mentoring Event
Date: Monday, March 11, 2019, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Venue: National University, 11255 North Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, 92037
Event details and registration:
2) OUTREACH - Participate as an AWIS SD Judge in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair 2019
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Venue: Balboa Park Activity Center
3) OUTREACH - Expanding Your Horizons Conference - Crime Science Workshop 2019
Calling for volunteers!
Date: Saturday, March 23, 2019 09:00 AM - 03:00 PM
Venue: University of San Diego
Event details and registration:
4) AWIS SD Scholarship deadline is March 28, 2019
See more AWIS-SD events here.
Juliati Rahajeng received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Nebraska, Medical Center in 2011. She joined UCSD School of Medicine as a postdoctoral researcher one month after her graduation. Juliati has been a member of AWIS-SD for the past 3 years. She is currently the co-chairs for the Newsletter committee and the Academia 2 Industry Coffee Club. She is also an active member of the Scholarship committee and she was a member of the AWIS-SD Open House 2015 committee.
Anita Pottekat received her Ph.D in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and moved to San Diego to do her post-doctoral research at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). She is currently working as a Scientist in the Array Content division at Illumina Inc. Her passion for teaching and promoting STEM in women brought her to AWIS and is currently serving on the outreach committee. Outside of work Anita enjoys dancing, travelling, gardening and spending time with her family.
Ksenya Cohen Katsenelson received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. To further enhance her research career, she relocated to San Diego for a postdoc at UCSD. She has a strong background in signal transduction pathways, and a broad range of experience in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology techniques. Outside the lab she loves hiking and boogie boarding with her husband and daughter, and enjoys social events with friends.
Qiong Song is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Medicine, UCSD. Her research focuses on studying pathogenesis of a group of rare genetic diseases with 3D human stem cell culture. She received her PhD in Bioprocess Engineering from the State University of New York in 2015. Qiong loves learning and problem solving. She serves as one of the Academia 2 Industry co-chairs since 2018.
Sabrina Treadwell received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of East Anglia and the Institute of Food Research in the UK in 2013. She joined UC San Diego as a postdoctoral researcher in 2014 to pursue her interest in Gastroenterology and Glycobiology. In early 2017, Sabrina transitioned into a new role as a project manager at UC San Diego leading an exploratory clinical research study. Sabrina joined AWIS-San Diego in 2015 and has since been an active member of the Strategy Sessions committee for which she currently serves as co-chair.
Aarti Narang is a Neuroimmunologist with an interest in promoting opportunities amongst women of all nationalities and color. Aarti did her PhD in Immunology from Medical University of South Carolina where she developed complement therapeutics for treatment of spinal cord injury paralysis that have been licensed to Alexion. She is now studying mechanisms of Neural regeneration to gain a better understanding and develop better therapeutics for people with neurodegenrative diseases. Along with her scientific career she has led several teams and is passionate about helping women connect and grow!
Shelby Stavretis received her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and her B.S. in Chemistry from Butler University, Indianapolis. The focus of her doctoral research was investigating molecular material with neutron scattering. Outside of science, Shelby loves going on road trips and hikes with her dog.
Yuesong Shi is currently a Ph.D. student major in Materials Science & Engineering at UCSD. Her research is focused on developing engineering tools and design to interface with the biological system. With an interest in creative medical devices, she is hoping to bridge research with real-world problems.
Alyson Smith recently earned her Ph.D. in cell biology from The Scripps Research Institute, studying the role of structural and motor proteins in maintaining the shape and durability of red blood cells in the lab of Velia Fowler. Prior to her graduate work, she earned a B.A. in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Alyson is currently pursuing a career in biotech intellectual property law. An interest in science communication and outreach motivated Alyson to join AWIS-SD shortly after she began her Ph.D., and she is now an active member of the Outreach and Newsletter Committees. Outside of AWIS-SD, Alyson enjoys baking, reading, writing, and running.