Current Issue: June 27, 2008


The next generation Many of this year’s graduates are moving on to new pursuits outside of Rockefeller University, but this fall, 29 new scientist-scholars will fill the ranks. The university’s screening committee — overseen by the Dean’s Office and including Sean Brady, Hironori Funabiki, Charles Gilbert, Magda Konarska, James Krueger, Stanislas Leibler, Marcelo Magnasco, F. Nina Papavasiliou, C. Erec Stebbins and Leslie Vosshall — vetted applications from 558 prospective students over the winter months and pared them down to 84. More

Convocation 2008

cover_photo_linkedWhen The Rockefeller University held its first Convocation in 1959, there were only five graduates. As of June 12, nearly 1,000 scientists are recipients of the Rockefeller University doctor of philosophy degree.

This year’s festivities began with a graduate luncheon, followed by a cap-and-gown procession across campus to the degree-granting ceremony in Caspary Auditorium, a graduate reception on Peggy Rockefeller Plaza and an alumni reunion reception in Weiss Café.

The class of 2008 is the fourth in the David Rockefeller Graduate Program (named in 2005). It includes 13 men and 13 women from eight countries: Canada, China, England, Germany, India, Japan, Taiwan and the United States. Twenty Rockefeller labs were represented by the graduates and nine of them, members of the Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. Program, will continue on to medical school. Others will begin careers in academia, industry or other fields.

This annual Convocation issue of BenchMarks salutes the Rockefeller University class of 2008.

Honorary degrees go to three Rockefeller alumni

Fedoroff, Hille and Edelman are honored with the university’s highest accolade


Edelman Fedoroff_HilleAlongside the 26 students who marched in cap and gown to receive their diplomas and graduate hoods on June 12, three Rockefeller alumni returned to the stage where years ago they defended their own dissertations. At this year’s Convocation ceremony, honorary doctor of science degrees were presented to plant geneticist and government science adviser Nina V. Fedoroff, class of 1972; ion channel pioneer Bertil Hille, class of 1967; and Nobel laureate Gerald M. Edelman, class of 1960.


Rudy Bellani receives this year’s David Rockefeller Fellowship


R BellaniWhen Rudy Bellani filled out only one application for graduate school — to Rockefeller University — his advisers told him he was crazy. “Hundreds of applicants vying for some 20 spots, and me with no backup plan,” says Mr. Bellani. “But my advisers were Rockefeller alumni, so they understood my desire to come here.” Accepted into the entering class of 2005, he hasn’t looked back since. Now a third-year student and a member of Fernando Nottebohm’s Laboratory of Animal Behavior, Mr. Bellani is also the recipient of this year’s David Rockefeller Fellowship. More

Gadsby and Muir receive fourth annual teaching awards


The faculty of The Rockefeller University have presided over the hypotheses, experiments and thesis defenses of nearly 1,000 students since the beginning of the graduate program in 1955. Before the Convocation ceremony on June 12, two of these mentors were recognized for their assiduous efforts on behalf of their students. David C. Gadsby, head of the Laboratory of Cardiac and Membrane Physiology, and Tom W. Muir, head of the Selma and Lawrence Ruben Laboratory of Synthetic Protein Chemistry, were presented with this year’s Rockefeller University Distinguished Teaching Awards during the Graduate Luncheon. More

Omar Ahmad

Following tradition, faculty mentors gave congratulatory tributes to this year’s graduates. Printed here are the transcripts of those speeches, as they were read on June 12.

O AhmadD.C.S., Marianopolis College; M.D., C.M., McGill University
Noises off: Two (Pairs of) Views of the Active Hair Bundle
presented by Sidney Strickland (on behalf of A. James Hudspeth and Bruce W. Knight) More

Helen S. Bateup

HS BateupB.S., The Pennsylvania State University
The Differential Involvement of Striatonigral and Striatopallidal Neurons in Psychostimulant and Antipsychotic Responses: A Dual Role for DARPP-32
presented by Sidney Strickland (on behalf of Paul Greengard) More