New Horizons in Science 2013 Speakers
By investigating the role of biological structure in viral infection, Mavis Agbandje-McKenna aims to understand how structure-function relationships drive biological processes. Although she is now focusing on engineering the viral capsid for gene therapy, she began with molecular-level PhD work at the University of London, where she characterized a novel group of anti-tumor agents that can intercalate DNA (fitting between base pairs to inhibit replication). In postdoc fellowships at Purdue and Warwick, she studied structure and function in single-stranded DNA parvoviruses as well as the Geminiviridae and Microviridae. Agbandje-McKenna joined the faculty of the University of Florida in 1999. In Gainesville her work on ssDNA viruses has expanded further to include the newly discovered TT (Torque Teno) virus.
Paul Anastas trained as a synthetic organic chemist, earning his PhD at Brandeis. Focusing on sustainability science and moving among academia, industry and government, he established the field of green chemistry, articulating its principles in books that include Benign by Design and Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice (John Warner, co-author). A Yale faculty member since 2007, he served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 1999-2004. He served as the Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development and Science Advisor to the EPA beginning in 2009, returning to Yale in 2012.
Tommy Angelini’s Bio and Soft Matter Lab at UF hopes to discover how system-level properties of large groups of cells—epithelial layers, endothelial networks and bacterial biofilms—emerge from microscopic dynamics.This is the latest focus of a research career that has combined molecular biophysics with cell mechanics, including the study of physical interactions between the cornea, the eyelid, and contact lenses mediated by synthetic and biological macromolecules. Angelini received his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and moved into cell mechanics and the physics of bacterial biofilm growth during postdoctoral research in the Weitzlab at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences before joining the UF faculty in 2010.
Linda Bartoshuk came to UF in 2005 from the surgery department at the Yale University School of Medicine. She is interested in genetic variation in the sense of taste as well as pathologies of taste. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Bartoshuk has served as president of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS), the Eastern Psychological Association and the Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. In 1998, she received the AChemS Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Chemical Senses. This year she was recognized by the Association for Psychological Science with its highest honor, the William James Lifetime Achievement Award for basic research.
Jon Bloch received his PhD in geological sciences from University of Michigan and spent a year there as an NSF-funded postdoctoral fellow, followed by two years as a research fellow at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. In 2004 he joined the faculty at the Florida Museum of Natural History. A Research Foundation Professor at the University of Florida, Bloch studies fossil vertebrates from the Cenozoic with an emphasis on addressing questions surrounding the first appearance and early evolution of the modern orders of mammals. Field research has taken him to the Cenozoic of Wyoming and Montana, the Cerrejón and Bogotá formations of northern Colombia, and the exposures along the Panama Canal. Bloch has been an associate editor of the Journal of Human Evolution, is on the editorial board of the Journal of Mammalian Evolution and is co-editor of the journal Paleobiology.
Trained in the UK at the University of Liverpool and Medical Research Council, Matthew Breen launched a career in molecular cytogenetics in the UK and Australia, where he helped develop techniques to analyze the genomes of horses and humans. After extending his comparative genomic studies to dogs, he relocated his lab to NC State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine as part of a campuswide genomics initiative in 2002. He is a member of the NCSU Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He was a founder and now serves on the board of the Canine Comparative Oncology and Genomics Consortium. He spends much of his time working with dog breeders who, he reports, are broadly committed to reducing the burden of genetic disease in purebred dogs by careful controlled breeding.
Kevin Folta’s laboratory examines the role of light in plant development and productivity, as well as how genes in small fruits contribute to consumer-desired traits. Folta has edited two seminal texts on genomics and genetics in fruit crops and serves as an editor for leading journals. He has been recognized with several prestigious national awards for research and student/postdoc mentoring. His research program has been recognized for its strong element of student training and service to the community. Folta’s goal is to teach evidence-based science at all levels and use research as a mechanism to train scientists and further scientific understanding beyond laboratory walls. He maintains an active web presence with the blog Illumination and is a frequent guest on science podcasts and radio shows. Ultimately his goal is to extend laboratory knowledge, shaping better products and policy that can benefit communities, farmers and the environment.
Greg Gray, a board-certified physician with graduate training in public health, has conducted epidemiological infectious disease research in the US and abroad for 25 years and joined the University of Florida faculty in 2010. His current research interests include the transmission of pathogens, especially respiratory viruses, from animals to people as a result of occupational exposure. This work has taken him more than to a dozen countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. A strong proponent of the cross-disciplinary "One Health" approach to animal and human health, he holds a joint appointment in veterinary medicine at UF, directs the world's first One Health Ph.D. program and recently won NIH funding for a postdoctoral zoonoses training program in partnership with scholars in Mongolia.
Mark Jaccard is an economist who has advised energy and environment policy makers around the world. He is known for designing and applying energy-economy models to assess the effectiveness and cost of sustainable energy policies. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Jaccard contributed to assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the 1990s and was an author on its 2011 special report on renewable energy sources. In 2007-12, he served as convening lead author for sustainable energy policy with the Global Energy Assessment. He has served on the faculty of Simon Fraser University since 1986, save for a stint as chair and CEO of the British Columbia Utilities Commission 1992-97. He writes the blog “Sustainability Suspicions” (http://markjaccard.blogspot.ca) and made headlines in 2012 as one of 13 protesters arrested for blockading a rail line used to deliver U.S. coal to Canada.
Julie Johnson is a leader in the field of personalized medicine, particularly for cardiovascular treatment. She joined the faculty at the University of Florida in 1998 following nine years on the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy faculty and was named dean of the UF College of Pharmacy in July 2013. Her research into how genes influence individual patients' responses to important cardiovascular drugs, including blood thinners and medications regulating blood pressure, has already found use in the field. In June 2012 UF Health began using a blood test to determine whether cardiac catheterization patients should be administered clopidogrel, a commonly prescribed anti-clotting drug, and found that approximately 28 percent have a genetic variation indicating a different medication should be used. The healthcare system is now storing this information in patient medical records and expanding the research to other medications.
Charles Lawrence works in relativistic astrophysics, the effort to understand the nature and history of the universe by analyzing the cosmic microwave background, extragalactic radio sources, strong gravitational lensing and other evidence of the primordial universe. He is thrilled to have participated in the field during a time when many long-puzzling questions about the universe have been answered. He currently leads US participation in Planck, the third-generation space mission to measure the anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background, which launched in May 2009. Lawrence went to MIT for graduate school after working as a physics teacher in the Baltimore public schools for seven years. He earned a PhD in physics and headed to Caltech as a research fellow. He joined the Jet Propulsion Lab in 1993. He has received NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal twice, for his leadership on both the Spitzer and Planck projects.
Ellen Martin joined the geological sciences faculty at the University of Florida in 1994 following completion of a PhD at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz. Her research in paleoceanography and paleoclimatology reconstructs past ocean chemistry and continental inputs to the ocean in order to define relations between continental weathering, carbon sequestration, ocean circulation and global climate change. She conducts field work in Greenland and collaborates with the International Ocean Discovery Program, which will take her to the Baltic Sea in the winter. Martin is on the Steering Committee for the Florida Climate Institute and is a member of the University of Florida Graduate Council. She has also served as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Consortium of Ocean Leadership and was the Colonel Allan R. and Margaret G. Crow Term Professor 2002-10.
Glenn Morris came to Gainesville to become director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute in 2007. He holds an MD and a master’s degree in public health and tropical medicine from Tulane and has served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, focusing his attention on cholera and other water- and foodborne illnesses. From 2000 to 2007 he chaired the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Morris has authored more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals and served on the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, on multiple IOM/National Academy of Sciences committees dealing with food safety and on the Armed Forces Epidemiology Board. Much of his current research is international and focuses on enteric and foodborne pathogens: “New diseases do not respect borders,” he notes. He currently has NIH funding for studies of cholera in Haiti and Bangladesh.
Website: http:// www.epi.ufl.edu
Anna-Lisa Paul is a plant molecular biologist with an interest in how plants respond to abiotic stress, particularly at the gene expression level. Venues associated with spaceflight provide an opportunity to explore plant genomic responses to a novel environment that is outside the evolutionary experience of terrestrial organisms. Paul and her colleague Robert Ferl have launched and analyzed five spaceflight experiments: a sortie on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999 plus three telemetric and gene expression experiments and a BRIC-16 gene expression experiment (BRIC stands for Biological Research in Canisters) on later shuttle flights. An additional spaceflight experiment launched and returned with SpaceX-2. Current research is evaluating the effects of the spaceflight environment on the patterns of signal transduction and gene expression in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana using state-of-the-art molecular biology and genetic techniques along with telemetric image collection.
David Reed grew up in a family of musicians. Thanks to an influential science teacher in high school, he enrolled in a marine biology program. An interest in museum studies and evolution led him to graduate school at Louisiana State University, where he studied coevolution with Mark Hafner, one of its pioneers. Reed’s research now focuses on several areas of evolutionary biology. He is best known for research that explores human evolution through the lens of our species’ longtime traveling companion, the lowly louse. Results on human migration have received widespread public attention and even earned a wag of the finger from Stephen Colbert. In his role as curator of mammals at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Reed oversees more than 30,000 mammal specimens collected around the world. He and his students also study the effects of climate change on mammal populations. He teaches courses in phylogenetics and mammalogy, and developed a course with Bruce MacFadden that teaches graduate students how to better communicate with public audiences.
After studying microbiology and plant pathology for his PhD, Andrew Schuerger worked for 18 years at The Land, a hydroponic research and education facility at Epcot Center, developing disease management programs for vegetable and agronomic crops. He has published extensively on plant-pathogen interactions in semi-closed plant growing systems, the survival of terrestrial microorganisms under Martian conditions, and the microbial ecology of human missions to Mars. Since joining the UF plant pathology faculty in 2003, he has been studying the effects of the surface environment on the survival, growth, and adaptation of terrestrial microorganisms on Mars. He also has continued research into the use of remote sensing technologies to detect and classify plant pathogens present in hydroponic plant production systems.
Douglas Soltis came to the University of Florida from Washington State in 2000. He is a former president of the Botanical Society of America, winner of their Centennial Award and author with Pam Soltis of Phylogeny and Evolution of Angiosperms. His interests include genome doubling (polyploidy), floral evolution, building the tree of life and angiosperm diversification. He has reconstructed relationships among major lineages of flowering plants and, with others, proposed a new classification for angiosperms. These new classifications represent the most dramatic changes in angiosperm relationships in over 100 years. Soltis’ framework formed the basis for two projects using genomic tools to address a fundamental problem: the origin of the flower. Soltis is part of a recently funded effort to build a first-draft tree of life for all of the 1.8 million species on Earth. The first draft of this tree will be available in the fall of 2013.
Pam Soltis has played a major role in reconstructing the plant branch of the tree of life and relaying this information to the scientific community and the public. Her research interests are in plant biodiversity, emphasizing angiosperm phylogeny, polyploidy, the evolution of the flower, conservation genetics of rare plant species and phylogeography. She joined the University of Florida faculty in 2001 after teaching at Washington State, where with Doug Soltis she investigated genome doubling. Soltis has served as president of the Society of Systematic Biologists and the Botanical Society of America and as an Associate Editor for ten journals, including Evolution and Systematic Biology. She participates in public outreach through the Gainesville public schools and the Florida Museum of Natural History, where she is featured in an ongoing exhibit, “Botanical Chords,” with artist Terry Ashley.
Gene Stanley’s pathbreaking career in physics and complexity studies began when he performed biological physics research with Max Delbruck and was awarded the PhD in physics by Harvard. Today he works in collaboration with students and colleagues on major puzzles in interdisciplinary science. His main focus is understanding the anomalous behavior of liquid water in bulk, nanoconfined and biological environments. He has worked on a range of other topics in complex systems, such as quantifying correlations among the constituents of the Alzheimer brain and quantifying fluctuations in noncoding and coding DNA sequences as well as interbeat intervals of the healthy and diseased heart. Honored by universities and scientific societies around the world, Stanley is a member of the Academies of Sciences in the US and Brazil. He was elected chair of the 2008 NAS/Keck Futures Initiative on Complexity and is an active member of the NAS committee Forefronts of Science at the Interface of Physical and Life Sciences, charged with finding ways for fostering useful collaborations between physicists and life scientists. He also serves on three NAS committees concerned with threat networks and threatened networks.
George M. Whitesides is the world’s most cited living chemist and one of the most imaginative and prolific scientists and inventors of the past century. A pioneer in microfabrication and self-assembly at the nanoscale and the founder of several companies, he served on the faculty of MIT from 1963 to 1982 before moving his laboratory to Harvard, where he chaired the chemistry department 1986-89. He now holds one of 21 University Professorships at Harvard. Whitesides is a member of the National Academies of Science and Engineering, a major figure in science policy and a winner of the Kyoto Prize, King Faisal International Prize in Chemistry, U.S. National Medal of Science and many other honors. A lively explainer of scientific ideas, he is co-author with Felice Frankel of On the Surface of Things: Images of the Extraordinary in Science (2008) and No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale (2009). His extensive Harvard research group is currently investigating questions ranging from soft robotics to medical diagnosis to the origins of life; its goal is “to fundamentally change the paradigms of science.”
George T. Whitesides was chosen in 2010 to lead Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company founded by Sir Richard Branson. After winning the X Prize with SpaceShipOne, a rocket plane that is lifted initially by a carrier vehicle, Branson unveiled SpaceShipTwo in 2009. Whitesides is responsible for guiding all aspects of the company to commercial operation in the U.S. and a proposed spaceport in Abu Dhabi. This includes The Spaceship Company, a joint venture to manufacture additional space vehicles. More than 540 individuals have plunked down deposits for seats on planned spaceflights. Before joining Virgin Galactic, Whitesides served as chief of staff for NASA and earlier as executive director of the National Space Society. Whitesides holds a master’s degree in geographic information systems and remote sensing from the University of Cambridge. He is a licensed private pilot and certified parabolic flight coach and cofounder of Yuri’s Night, an annual global celebration of space.
Clive Wynne’s research interests have focused on dogs and their wild relatives, but over the last 30 years he has studied the behavior of animals ranging from pigeons to dunnarts (a mouse-sized marsupial) and from bats to Galápagos tortoises. He is currently completing a book on the evolution of dogs, a project that has taken him to Africa and other sites of early domestication to elucidate the interplay of genetics and behavior. Professor of psychology at the University of Florida from 2002 to 2013 and director of UF’s Canine Cognition & Behavior Lab, Wynne recently joined the Arizona State faculty. He is also Director of Research at Wolf Park, a wildlife education and research facility in Battle Ground, IN. Always fascinated by the things animals do, in recent years he has developed an additional interest in how people relate to animals. When not working, he talks to his dog–even though research from his own lab suggests she is quite indifferent to what he says to her.
Alla Zelenyuk uses laboratory and field studies to probe two questions important to understanding clouds and climate: the complex processes that govern the atmospheric lifecycle of aerosols and the characterization of combustion particles. She has conducted this research at PNNL since 2003. Zelenyuk earned her PhD in chemical physics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Russia and served as a research scientist at Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics in Moscow. In the U.S., she conducted research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Brookhaven National Laboratory before joining PNNL. The dual-use tools she has developed aim to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied sciences, advancing the understanding of chemical and physical transformations of nanoparticles while also shedding light on the role of aerosols in cloud condensation and the nucleation of atmospheric ice.
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