Jason Pitts wasn’t entirely sure what to do with his life after graduating from college, back in 2008. So like any good scientist facing a big question, he came up with a series of experiments. Mr. Pitts tested out several careers — from medicine to teaching to pharmaceuticals — before concluding that bench science was his true passion and grad school was where he belonged. Mr. Pitts, now a graduate fellow in President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s lab, was recently honored for his dedication to thoughtful research and community service at this year’s Convocation luncheon, where he was awarded the David Rockefeller Fellowship.
As the graduating class of 2013 moves on to the next stages of life and career, the Rockefeller community welcomes the incoming group of graduate fellows. There were 719 applications received this year, and after careful consideration by the admissions committee, 69 applicants were offered admission to the university. Twenty-four students will enroll — 13 men and 11 women from 6 countries: China, Japan, Korea, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
At this year’s Convocation ceremony, honorary degrees were awarded to four proponents of basic science who have made invaluable contributions to science, through research and philanthropy. Günter Blobel, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Professor at Rockefeller; Paul Greengard, Vincent Astor Professor at Rockefeller; and James and Marilyn Simons, leaders in the philanthropic community, each accepted degrees.
Two Rockefeller faculty members were honored at the Convocation luncheon with this year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards: Assistant Professor Luciano Marraffini and Leon Hess Assistant Professor Sohail Tavazoie. It is the 10th year that the awards, which recognize excellence in and dedication to the university’s educational environment, have been given to Rockefeller faculty members. Dr. Marraffini, head of the Laboratory of Bacteriology, and Dr. Tavazoie, head of the Elizabeth and Vincent Meyer Laboratory of Systems Cancer Biology, were recognized for their passion and commitment to education at Rockefeller.
Presented by Robert B. Darnell on behalf of himself and Jennifer C. Darnell
B.A., Wellesley College
Mechanism of Translational Control by the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein and Creation of the FMRP cTAG Mouse
The newest graduate students are here and ready to don their lab coats. There are 27 students — 18 are a part of the Rockefeller Ph.D. program, one student is in the Tri-Institutional Chemical Biology program and eight are M.D.-Ph.D. students.
Two pioneers in the field of molecular biology were recipients of the honorary doctor of science degree at the June 14 Convocation ceremony: Rockefeller’s own James E. Darnell Jr., Vincent Astor Professor Emeritus and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, and Yale University’s Joan A. Steitz, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
As the Rockefeller community says goodbye to the graduating class of 2012, a new group of talented students is set to join the campus in the fall. Approximately 700 applications of potential new students were received this year, and after much deliberation by the admissions committee, that list was narrowed down to 87 acceptances. Of those, 19 have enrolled in The David Rockefeller Graduate Program this fall and one has deferred admission until 2013.
Members of the Rockefeller faculty and staff were recognized for their service to the university with two recent events. The Employee Recognition Cocktail Reception in February honored employees who had worked at the university for 20 and 25 years. Fifty-nine employees celebrated 20 years of service and 29 celebrated 30 years.
Although the removal of concealed asbestos caused some delays last spring, the reconstruction of Flexner and Welch Halls is still on schedule, with work on both projects expected to be complete by the end of fall 2012.
Joseph Luna, a native of El Paso, Texas and a graduate of Yale University who is exploring host-virus interactions at the RNA level, has been awarded this year’s David Rockefeller Fellowship. The David Rockefeller Fellowship has been presented annually since 1998 to an outstanding third-year student who demonstrates exceptional promise as both a scientist and a leader.
As the class of 2011 prepares to move on, a new batch of graduate students is set to take their place. Rockefeller’s application screening committee pored over 797 applications of potential new students this year, eventually winnowing the list down to 93 acceptances. Of those, 30 have enrolled in The David Rockefeller Graduate Program this fall and one has deferred admission until 2012.
It takes several hundred billion nerve cells to put together the human brain, and they must be connected in an intricate and precise pattern in order to function properly. The formation of these connections — the brain’s neural circuits — during an organism’s embryonic development is what ultimately allows the brain to perceive, remember and issue commands to the rest of the body.
The Rockefeller University has chosen CoreSource, Inc., a national administrator of self-funded health insurance plans, to replace The Principal Financial Group as the university’s third-party benefits administrator. The change in providers, which was effective as of January 1, 2011, means a new team will process claims for Rockefeller employees covered by the self-funded Rockefeller health plan and those who have dental insurance or flexible spending accounts. There are no changes to the terms of the policies themselves and Oxford plans are not affected.
Eighteen inches of wet, heavy snow didn’t just look pretty, it also stuck to tree branches, loading them with hundreds of extra pounds of dead weight. From the perspective of the university’s trees, the January 26 snowstorm was the worst in over a decade. Among the hardest hit were an American holly near the entrance to the Bronk building, and a blue atlas cedar on the southeast corner of Caspary Auditorium. Both will survive, but will need to be treated by an arborist in the spring.
The Board of Trustees elected four new members at its fall meeting on November 17: Holly S. Andersen, H. Rodgin Cohen, Surya N. Mohapatra and John M. Shapiro. The Board now numbers 40.
This year’s recipients of honorary doctor of science degrees, Hanna Holborn Gray and Harold E. Varmus, have played major roles in shaping education and science in the United States. Dr. Gray, president emeritus of the University of Chicago, recently retired after 13 years as chairman of the board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Varmus, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist, is former director of the National Institutes of Health and former president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Drs. Gray and Varmus spoke at the June 10 afternoon Convocation ceremony.
by TALLEY HENNING BROWN
Generations of new scientists have been affected by the work of Thomas R. Cech and Maurice R. Greenberg. Dr. Cech, former president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a dedicated teacher for over 30 years, has long been an advocate for the advancement of young scientists. Mr. Greenberg, chairman of The Starr Foundation and active in numerous other philanthropic initiatives, has made a second career of supporting the most innovative research. The recipients of this year’s honorary doctor of science degrees, Dr. Cech and Mr. Greenberg spoke at the June 11 afternoon Convocation ceremony. More
by TALLEY HENNING BROWN
While more than 1,000 students have braved the rigors of scientific pursuit to earn Rockefeller University doctorates, the faculty who mentored them have braved some rigors of their own: years of difficult questions, wild experimentation and attentive collaboration. Two of those faculty were honored for their untiring efforts at this year’s Convocation Luncheon. A. James Hudspeth, head of the Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience, and Fernando Nottebohm, head of the Laboratory of Animal Behavior, are the recipients of the 2009 Rockefeller University Distinguished Teaching Awards. More
by TALLEY HENNING BROWN
When it came time to choose a graduate school, Sarah Wacker’s method looked a little like a game of darts. Certain that she wanted to continue her study of proteins in a lively urban environment, she applied to what she considered the best school in every major city across the country. “I visited every school I applied to, and when I was accepted to Rockefeller, it felt right,” Ms. Wacker says. “Like hitting the bullseye.” Having now finished her third year in Tarun Kapoor’s Laboratory of Chemistry and Cell Biology, Ms. Wacker’s record is still going strong. This spring, she received the university’s prestigious David Rockefeller Fellowship. More
In 1944, Rockefeller scientists Oswald T. Avery, Colin M. MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty made the landmark discovery that DNA is the molecule responsible for carrying genetic information. Sixty-five years later, dozens of colleagues, family members and admirers gathered in the first-floor lobby of The Rockefeller University Hospital, where a plaque commemorating that historical achievement was unveiled. The celebration, held on February 10, was the first in a series of events to celebrate the hospital’s centennial, which officially kicks off this fall.
Last fall, Caspary Hall was witness to a unique gathering. Ten of Rockefeller University’s current faculty members who are winners of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award and/or the Nobel Prize came together to view the new exhibit in the lobby of Caspary Auditorium that gives a historical timeline of Rockefeller’s current and past Lasker and Nobel laureates. The scientists, whose awards stretch from 1974 to 2007, were recognized for wide-ranging achievements, from discoveries about how cells are organized to elucidation of how electrical signals are relayed in the nervous system to vaccine development for prevention of bacterial disease. More
Behind the fences, work on the Collaborative Research Center is proceeding on schedule. Over the past several months, crews in Smith Hall have poured a new slab for the sixth floor, constructed a new roof and penthouse for mechanical equipment, and have begun installing new windows and running electrical and ventilation equipment on several floors. Next door, at the site of the bridging building, excavation work is complete and the foundation has been poured; beginning in January, work will begin on the concrete “superstructure” that will form the building’s skeleton. Construction is also proceeding at the Comparative Bioscience Center, and it’s complete at the electrical vault under the 66th Street parking lot, where Con Edison is currently testing new equipment. For more photos and videos of the progress, visit crc.rockefeller.edu.
Events calendar goes electronic. Communications and Public Affairs (CPA) and Information Technology have launched the final phase of the Rockefeller University Calendar of Events overhaul. A weekly e-mail of featured events is sent each Monday morning to all members of the campus community. In addition to information on lectures, seminars, symposia and campus events, the new e-mail calendar also contains brief speaker bios for featured lectures. For more information, contact CPA at x7900. More
Intelligence Squared U.S., an organization dedicated to expanding and enlivening public discourse through debate, will hold several debates in Caspary Auditorium this year. The events, geared toward a public audience and broadcast via NPR, feature panels of experts arguing questions of current cultural and political import. More
A nearly nine-foot-wide painting of Rockefeller president Paul Nurse, by acclaimed British artist Jason Brooks, has been made part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Mr. Brooks achieved a high level of precision by using acrylic paints and an airbrush, working from large-format photographs he took himself. From a distance, the painting is sharply defined, but close up it is made of abstracted forms, an attempt, in the artist’s words, “to get lost in somebody’s structure.” Jason Brooks studied at Cheltanham College of Art and Chelsea College of Art in London. He has won numerous prizes and exhibits regularly at Stellan Holm Gallery in New York.
by TALLEY HENNING BROWN
The Rockefeller University will begin its fall semester with two newly tenured faculty members. The university’s Board of Trustees has approved promotions for Tarun Kapoor, head of the Laboratory of Chemistry and Cell Biology, and Michael P. Rout, head of the Laboratory of Cellular and Structural Biology. Both have been promoted from associate professor to professor. More
|Electrician Robert Gualtieri’s most important contribution to the recently completed renovation of Bronk’s first floor isn’t in the walls, it’s on them. On Friday, April 4, Mr. Gualtieri, a 20-year employee in Plant Operations, revealed his brightly painted, 8-by-21-foot mural on the south wall of the first-floor hallway. Commissioned by A. James Hudspeth, head of the Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience, the painting is a colorful, interpretive rendering of Dr. Hudspeth’s research into the science of hearing. More|
|Originally suggested in the mid-1950s by Life Trustee David Rockefeller and President Detlev W. Bronk, the Faculty and Students Club opened in 1958 to encourage social interaction and scientific collaboration among the faculty, postdocs, students and staff of Rockefeller University. The Faculty and Students Club celebrated its 50th anniversary on Monday, March 17, complete with a proper Saint Patrick’s Day spread of corned beef, cabbage and Irish coffee. Pat Griffin — who began as a bartender in 1986 — has been manager of the FSC since 1994. He and two part-time bartenders now serve 400 to 500 FSC members each week, out of a total membership of about 750. The most popular drink? At about five kegs a week, beer — specifically Yuengling draft, Yuengling Black and Tan, Brooklyn Lager and London Pride — with margaritas a close second. Photos from the club’s past include, clockwise from top left: Peter Dumiak and an unidentified bartender; T.P. King and Mabel Bright mid-dance; a chef laying out a catered spread; and the Lester Lanin Band, which played at the club’s 25th anniversary, in 1983. More|
|“From RNA to Humans: A Symposium on Evolution” will be held May 1 and 2 on the Rockefeller University campus. Experts from institutions across the world will speak on subjects from the RNA world hypothesis to the development of eukaryotes to the evolution of humans.
|This year’s program, which began September 7, brings 30 speakers from
some of the world’s top universities and institutions to Rockefeller
for the university’s weekly lecture series. More
Butterfly gardens planted this spring have led to sightings of several different species across the Rockefeller campus. More