Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘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.

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.

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.

Inaugural ‘Science Saturday’ draws families

Jointly hosted by the Development Office’s Parents & Science initiative and the Science Outreach program, headed by Jeanne Garbarino, the day-long event was open to children ages 6 to 18 and their parents, grandparents and teachers. The festivities included more than 20 learning stations, scattered throughout the CRC, which were conceptualized and staffed by nearly 70 Rockefeller lab heads, postdocs and students, as well as former Summer Science Research Program participants.



C. David Allis, the 2014 Japan Prize in Life Sciences from the Japan Prize Foundation, for his pioneering work in epigenetics and his discovery that chemical modifications of DNA-packaging proteins play a key role in regulating the activity of individual genes. The prize, worth approximately half a million dollars, is among the most prestigious international prizes in science. Dr. Allis is Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics.


Registration to be required for bicycles. In an effort to encourage safe bicycle use and eliminate abandoned bikes, the university is implementing a bicycle registration program. Required permits will be issued at the security desk in Founder’s Hall for no charge. Beginning February 3, any bike that has not been registered will be removed from the university’s bicycle racks or other storage locations; the owner will have 30 days to pick it up before it is donated to charity.

Events celebrate longtime employee service at Rockefeller

Several ceremonies were held last year to commemorate years of service to the university by Rockefeller employees. In November, 33 members of the university were celebrated for 10 years of service. And in May, an Employee Recognition Reception was held to honor 31 employees who have worked at Rockefeller for 20 and 25 years, followed by an anniversary dinner honoring 20 retirees and 17 employees with 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years of service.


Grant Martin, a research assistant in Paul Greengard’s lab, died unexpectedly at age 26 on July 26. Mr. Martin joined the Greengard lab in 2010 and worked under the supervision of Yong Kim, where he managed the lab’s microscopy facilities. His research interests were in Alzheimer’s disease and drug addiction and he performed dendritic spine analysis, immunocytochemistry and statistical analysis.



Titia de Lange, the 2013 Jill Rose award from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, in recognition of her fundamental contributions to research on telomeres and their relationship to aging and cancer. The award was presented at the foundation’s annual symposium and awards luncheon in New York in October. Dr. de Lange is Leon Hess Professor and head of the Laboratory of Cell Biology and Genetics.

David Rockefeller Fellowship awarded to neuroscientist Jason Pitts

David Rockefeller Fellowship awarded to neuroscientist Jason PittsJason 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.

Coming soon, to The David Rockefeller Graduate Program

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.

Four leaders in science and philanthropy given honorary degrees

Four leaders in science and philanthropy given honorary degreesAt 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.

Marraffini and Tavazoie recognized for excellence in teaching

Marraffini and Tavazoie recognized for excellence in teachingTwo 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.

Sarah Van Driesche

Sarah Van DrieschePresented 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

New faces on campus


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.

Honorary degree recipients advanced knowledge of RNA function

stetizdarnellTwo 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.

Coming soon, to The David Rockefeller Graduate Program

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.

Joseph Luna named David Rockefeller Fellow

josephlunaJoseph 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.

Coming soon, to The David Rockefeller Graduate Program

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.

To understand the brain, Tessier-Lavigne studies its wiring

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.

CoreSource named new health plan administrator

coresourceThe 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.

Bent to the breaking point

treeEighteen 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.

Science, education leaders accept honorary degrees

gray_varmusThis 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.

Cech and Greenberg presented with honorary degrees


Dr. CechGenerations 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

Fifth annual teaching awards honor Hudspeth and Nottebohm


Fernando Nottebohm, Paul Nurse and A. James Hudspeth at the Convocation LuncheonThose who can, teach. From left, Fernando Nottebohm, Paul Nurse and A. James Hudspeth at the Convocation Luncheon.

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

Sarah Wacker named 2009 David Rockefeller Fellow


Sarah Wacker 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

Heredity at the hospital

Plaque commemorating the landmark discovery that DNA is the molecule responsible for carrying genetic informationIn 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.

Laureates on Exhibit

Rockefeller University's faculty membersLast 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

Collaborative construction

constructionBehind 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


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

Rockefeller hosts 2008 IQ2 debates

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

Still life with scientist

Paul Nurse portraitA 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.

Tarun Kapoor and Mike Rout receive tenure promotions


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

Written on the wall

Graffiti artist Coco 144 reveals his newest work in Bronk
Coco144Electrician 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

Faculty and Students Club turns 50

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