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Convocation 2015 | Convocation

When The Rockefeller University held its first Convocation in 1959, there were only five graduates. Fifty-six years later, as of Convocation on June 11, 2015, there are now 1,178 recipients of the Rockefeller University doctor of philosophy degree.

Honorary degrees awarded to three Pearl Meister Greengard laureates | Convocation

In addition to 28 students, three trailblazing women in science received degrees from Rockefeller this year. In a tradition dating back more than 50 years, the university awarded honorary doctorate of science degrees to distinguished individuals who have made notable contributions to bioscience: Nicole Le Douarin, a developmental biologist at the Collège de France; Mary Frances Lyon, a geneticist at the U.K. Medical Research Council, whose degree was awarded posthumously; and Brenda Milner, a neuropsychologist at McGill University.

David Rockefeller Award for Extraordinary Service honors founding chairs of university’s Women & Science initiative | Convocation

Among the accolades for scholar-scientists, this year’s Convocation also honored four women with a different but no less significant role in the advancement of research— Lydia A. Forbes, Isabel P. Furlaud, Nancy M.Kissinger, and Sydney Roberts Shuman, the founding chairs of Rockefeller’s Women & Science initiative.

Gaby Maimon and Vanessa Ruta honored with teaching awards | Convocation

For Rockefeller graduate students there is labwork, and there is coursework. This year, the university recognizes two teachers who have devoted substantial time, energy, and creativity to designing and leading one of the most challenging and innovative courses within the university’s graduate curriculum: Gaby Maimon, assistant professor and head of the Laboratory of Integrative Brain Function, and Vanessa Ruta, Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Assistant Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Behavior. They were presented with the university’s Distinguished Teaching Awards at this year’s Convocation luncheon.

Lindsay Bellani | Convocation

Presented by Leslie B. Vosshall

B.S., The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Why Mosquitoes Bite Some People More than Others: Metabolic Correlates of Human Attraction in Aedes aegypti

Jabez Bok | Convocation

Presented by Sidney Strickland on behalf of Robert G. Roeder

B.S., University of Wisconsin, Madison

Mechanism of Action of ING4 as a Transcriptional Coactivator of p53

Akinori F. Ebihara | Convocation

Presented by Winrich Freiwald on behalf of himself and Marcelo O. Magnasco

B.S., The University of Tokyo

Normalization Among Heterogeneous Population Confers Stimulus Discriminability on the Macaque Face Patch Neurons

Anna Katherine Kruyer | Convocation

Presented by Erin Norris on behalf of herself and Sidney Strickland

B.A., Fordham College at Lincoln Center

The Effect of Chronic Hypertension on Neuropathology in the TgSwDI Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease

Roman Subbotin | Convocation

Presented by Brian T. Chait

B.S., M.S., Taras Shevchenko Kiev State University

M.S., University of Minnesota

Chemical Stabilization—A Path Towards Deciphering Protein-Protein Interactions in the Cellular Milieu

He Tian | Convocation

Presented by Thomas P. Sakmar

B.S., Peking University

Development of Novel Chemical Biology Tools for Probing Structure-Function Relationships in G Protein Coupled Receptors

Yifan Xu | Convocation

Presented by Jeremy Dittman on behalf of Cori Bargmann

B.S., Duke University

Neural Circuit Dependence of Acute and Subacute Nociception in Caenorhabditis elegans

Announcements

Kids welcome. In celebration of national Take Your Child to Work Day, Human Resources will host activities for 8- to 12-year-olds from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 23. Children must be registered by April 17 and must be accompanied by an adult to attend. Space is limited. For more information, call x8300.

Cardiologist Paul Cohen, expert in obesity and related diseases, named to faculty | Faculty Recruitment

More than one in three U.S. adults is obese, a condition that puts them at risk for an alarming array of health problems, from diabetes and heart disease to cancer. But while obesity brings devastating consequences for many, some escape. For a select few, obesity causes little more than sore joints and fatigue, at least for a time.

Child and Family Center to expand by five rooms | Campus News

The Rockefeller University Child and Family Center, long one of the university’s most coveted perks for parents and a model for work-site child care facilities nationwide, will expand by 40 percent this year, with five new classrooms to be constructed on the second floor of the Graduate Students Residence. The expansion, which will double the number of highly desirable infant spots available in the program as well as add new seats for toddlers and preschoolers, is the first increase in the CFC’s size since 2001 and will help shorten a lengthy admissions waitlist that some families remain on for two years or more.

New career director to help students and postdocs navigate options | Appointment

Andrea Morris’s career in biology has had a few curves. After earning a Ph.D. in molecular biology and doing a postdoc, she took a tenure-track faculty job, teaching and running a lab at a small liberal arts college. But she ultimately gave up tenure, and the bench, to work in higher education administration. Now, as the newly hired director of career resources and professional development in Rockefeller’s Dean’s Office, she is charting yet another course, putting her biology Ph.D. to work in ways Rockefeller students and postdocs can appreciate.

Two new Trustees are elected to Board | New Trustees

The university’s Board of Trustees elected two new members in October 2014: Weslie Janeway, a philanthropist with a long-standing interest in genetics, and Michael J. Price, an investment advisor specializing in the telecom and technology industries. With their elections, the university now has 45 voting trustees.

‘Talking Science’ lecture moves to January

The university’s annual holiday lecture for high school students, a tradition dating back to 1960, received a makeover this year. In addition to a new name, “Talking Science,” which debuted in 2013, the lecture was moved to the second Saturday of January, and expanded to include a lunchtime program of scientific demonstrations — highlights included electric fish, visual illusions and fruit fly mating — in the CRC, as well as the customary two-part lecture in Caspary Auditorium.

Milestones | Awards, Personnel News, Promotions

Awarded:

Mary Ellen Conley, the AAI-Steinman Award from the American Association of Immunologists. The award, named for the late Ralph M. Steinman, head of Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology, recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the understanding of immune processes underlying human disease pathogenesis, prevention or therapy. The award will be presented May 10 at the association’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Dr. Conley is a member of Jean-Laurent Casanova’s St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases.

Announcements

Tri-I TDI makes modeling software available. The Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, Inc. (Tri-I TDI) has signed an agreement to provide access to Schrödinger’s materials science, biologics and small‑molecule drug discovery suites to researchers within Tri-I TDI’s member institutions. The software simulation tools, which perform virtual screening, analyze potential compounds for suitability and model chemical systems, are designed to advance early-stage research toward new therapeutics. The contract includes open access to key industry-leading tools of drug discovery as well as training. For more information, visit www.tritdi.org/schrodinger.

Geneticist Joe Gleeson joins faculty as professor | Faculty Recruitment

Joseph Gleeson, a neurogeneticist who uses genetic sequencing to identify the causes of pediatric brain disease across its spectrum, including epilepsy, autism, intellectual disability and structural disorders, has joined Rockefeller as a professor and established the Laboratory of Pediatric Brain Diseases. Dr. Gleeson, formerly a professor at the University of California, San Diego, is one of two mid-career scientists who joined the university this summer (the other, Jue Chen, was featured in the June 13 issue of BenchMarks).

Tenure awarded to Hiro Funabiki | Faculty Promotion

Hironori Funabiki, head of the Laboratory of Chromosome and Cell Biology, was promoted to professor and granted tenure by the university’s Board of Trustees at its June meeting. Dr. Funabiki studies mitosis, the primary type of cell division that underlies all growth, maintenance and reproduction in organisms from plants to fungi.

New cryo-EM suite expands Rockefeller’s capabilities in structural biology | Campus News

Structural biology, in which scientists examine the shapes of specific proteins and protein complexes at a molecular scale, has driven some of biology’s most profound discoveries in the past decade, including insights into neurological signaling, pathogenic processes and DNA transcription. With the acquisition of sophisticated new cryo-electron microscopy tools, the university’s labs will be able to benefit from technology that allows for the visualization of three-dimensional structures of molecules and macromolecular complexes in solution.

Playing doctors: Tri-Institutional Music and Medicine Program features physicians and scientists who also perform music | Campus News

Maybe it’s the fact that they both involve a good amount of discipline, or maybe it’s that each requires a certain flair for creative thought. Whatever the reason, many people find themselves drawn to both music and science, and are often faced with the difficult decision of choosing between two passions. The Music and Medicine program at Weill Cornell Medical College aims to make that choice easy for the students and faculty of Rockefeller, Cornell and Memorial Sloan Kettering — they can have both.

Science communicator named new head of Public Affairs | Appointment

An endless stream of compelling discoveries emerges regularly from Rockefeller’s research community and it is the job of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs to make sure those findings are accessible internally and externally. The new executive director of the office, Franklin Hoke, brings with him a background as a veteran science journalist and communications leader in academic settings, and he plans to bolster the office’s core mission to disseminate scientific news. He joined the university in June.

Antique vacuum pump finds new home in Pennsylvania

Not as iconic as the breakthrough discoveries and famous names, but a vital part of Rockefeller’s history nonetheless — a pump that supplied vacuum pressure to Rockefeller labs for over half a century — is having its moment in the spotlight. One of the last of its kind in Manhattan, the 1952 pump (left) has been donated to the National Museum of Industrial History, a new facility now under construction in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

130 employees honored for longtime service | Anniversaries and Retirements

Several ceremonies were held this year to commemorate years of service to the university by Rockefeller employees. This month, 45 members of the university were celebrated for 10 years of service. And in May, an Employee Recognition Reception was held to honor 29 employees who have worked at Rockefeller for 20 and 25 years, followed by an anniversary dinner honoring 16 retirees and 40 employees with 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 60 years of service. To see more photos from the three events, visit www.rockefeller.edu/employeerecognition.

Professor Emeritus Peter Marler, researcher of songbird learning, dies | Obituaries

Professor Emeritus Peter Robert Marler, whose work in songbird learning established a foundation for understanding how animals communicate, died July 5 at the age of 86 in Winters, California. Dr. Marler joined Rockefeller’s faculty in 1966 and helped establish the Millbrook Field Research Center about 80 miles north of Manhattan, serving as its founding director from 1972 to 1981.

Milestones | Awards, Personnel News, Promotions

Awarded:

C. David Allis, the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The award recognizes Dr. Allis “for the discovery of covalent modifications of histone proteins and their critical roles in the regulation of gene expression and chromatin organization, advancing the understanding of diseases ranging from birth defects to cancer.” The Breakthrough Prize, worth $3 million, was launched in 2013 by a group of Internet and technology entrepreneurs to recognize transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life. Dr. Allis is one of six scientists to receive the life sciences prize this year; the awards were presented at a celebrity-studded gala awards ceremony November 9 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Dr. Allis is Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics.

Convocation 2014 | Special Issue

Convocation 2014The 2014 Convocation awarded 23 Ph.Ds to Rockefeller graduate fellows, bringing the total number of Rockefeller alumni to 1,150. The luncheon preceding the ceremony was held for the first time in the new, grandly restored Great Hall of Welch. Following tradition, faculty mentors joined their students in a procession across the campus, then presented each at a formal ceremony in Caspary Auditorium. Afterward, the campus community turned out for a reception in Weiss Café to celebrate the graduates.

Honorary degrees awarded to Gurdon, Robertson and Yamanaka | Convocation

In addition to 23 students, three seasoned contributors to basic science — two Nobel Prize winners and a philanthropist — received degrees from Rockefeller this year. In a tradition dating back more than five decades, the university awarded honorary doctorate of science degrees to distinguished individuals who have made notable contributions in their fields.

Coming soon, to The David Rockefeller Program

As the graduating class of 2014 moves on to the next stages of life and career, the Rockefeller community welcomes the incoming group of graduate fellows. There were 744 applications received this year, and after careful consideration by the admissions committee, 77 applicants were offered admission to the university.

Structural biologist, focused on cell transport machinery, to join faculty | Faculty Recruitment

Jue Chen, a structural biologist whose research focuses on transporter proteins that act as the cell’s pumping machinery, will join Rockefeller as professor and head of laboratory in July. Dr. Chen, currently a tenured professor of biology at Purdue University in Indiana, is especially interested in the role of transporter proteins in health and disease.

Drug discovery fund begins making grants | Campus News

A new $25 million initiative, created earlier this academic year to help develop basic research discoveries into new medical therapies, has had a promising launch, with $1.55 million in awards granted to Rockefeller scientists in its initial phase. The first awards are for proof-of-concept projects aimed at identifying and validating potential therapeutic targets. They include pilot funding for 12 early stage projects, two novel diagnostics, one vaccine and one stem cell therapy approach. Funding was also provided to four more advanced projects: one for development of a vaccine and three for novel cancer therapeutics.