August Scientist of the Month

By: Shreyoshi Chakraborti

Cynthia Kenyon

Born on February 21st, 1954, Cynthia Kenyon is an American molecular biologist and bio gerontologist known for her 1993 pioneering discovery that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan of healthy, fertile C. elegans roundworms. This sparked an intensive study of the molecular biology of aging. She is presently a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Her findings denied the idea that aging happens in individuals in a random way and established the genetic basis for it. She identified the downstream genes that are involved for the cause of aging and provided an idea that is serving several biotechnology firms now, “how to reverse the aging process.”

 Kenyon’s findings have led to the realization that a universal hormone-signaling pathway influences the rate of aging in most species, including humans. She has identified many genes involved in lifespan, and her lab was the first to discover that neurons can control the lifespan of the whole animal.

Kenyon graduated valedictorian in chemistry from the University of Georgia in 1976. She received her Ph.D. from MIT in 1981 where in Graham Walker’s lab she looked for genes on the basis of activity profiles thereby discovering DNA damaging agents that activate a cluster of DNA repair genes in E.coli. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner in the MRC laboratory in Cambridge, England studying the development of C.elegans

In 1986 she joined the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, where she became the Herb Boyer Distinguished Professor and an American Cancer Society Professor. She cofounded the Elixir laboratory in 1999, with Leonard Guarente, with a hope of discovering and developing drugs that would reverse or slow the process of aging. In April 2014, she joined Calico, a new company focused on health, wellbeing and longer life span. Kenyon is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she is a former president of the Genetics Society of America. She has received many scientific honors and awards.

References:
https://www.calicolabs.com/cynthia-kenyon/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Kenyon

July Scientist of the Month

By: Shreyoshi Chakraborti

Wanda M. Austin

Born in the Bronx, New York City in 1954, Wanda M Austin served as a former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation and a leading architect for the nation’s national security space programs. She was both the first woman and the first African American to hold this position. She retired from the position on October 1, 2016. Today she serves as a consultant and a member of the Board of Directors of the company. Austin also served as an interim president for the University of Southern California. She continues to serve as the board of directors of the Space Foundation and Chevron Corporation and a member of the board of trustees for the University of Southern California and the National Geographic Society.

Austin graduated from Bronx High School, following her B.S in mathematics from Franklin and Marshall College. She obtained her Master’s in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh. After completing her degree, she worked at Rockwell International before joining Aerospace Corporation in 1979. Her work in applied mathematics during master’s involved modeling traffic systems.

In Aerospace Corporation she worked in several projects involving satellite communications and defense. In 1988, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California working on Natural Language in Application of Systems Dynamics Modelling. She served as a senior vice president before becoming the CEO of the Aerospace Corporation. In 2015 she was elected by President Barack Obama to serve as the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In 2009, she was elected as a member of NASA Advisory Council and U.S Human Space Flight Plans Committee.

wanda.jpg
Headshot, Wanda M. Austin

In 2010 Austin was appointed to the Defense Science Board. She also became a member of the California Council of Science and Technology, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2016, Austin published a book called Making Space: Strategic Leadership for a Complex World.

She is the recipient of the National Intelligence Medallion for Meritorious service; the Air Force scroll of Achievement. In 2010, she received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Braun Award of Excellence in Space Program Management. In 2012 she was awarded Horatio Alger Award, NDIA Peter B Teets Industry Award. She also received the USC Presidential Medal in 2018.

References:
http://www.idvl.org/sciencemakers/Bio40.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanda_Austin

BlackLivesMatter

GWiSE is in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement. #BLM

First, we want to acknowledge all our Black peers: we love you and your lives matter. You belong here and have the right to have your voices heard. We are devastated that the Black members of our community are murdered and mistreated either directly at the hands of those who claim to serve and protect or due to the systematic racism that makes up the infrastructure in our society. We acknowledge that systematic racism fails Black people at every single step from access to education to proper healthcare to daily stigmatizing interactions.

We acknowledge that every Black student, Black graduate student, Black faculty member in academia has never had the freedom to exist without facing extreme racial duress. As a community, we will continue to fight for the day when that is no longer true. We acknowledge that racial oppression is intersectional, and that Black students may be multiply marginalized by their gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, etc.

We acknowledge that we cannot champion diversity and equity in academia without confronting inequalities more broadly in our society.

To our non-Black peers: Speak up. When you see an injustice say something. Now is not the time to be quiet. Now is the time to be loud. That may mean confronting your colleagues, friends, and family members. Have hard conversations.

Please be mindful to not talk over those who are Black and instead think of using your privilege and your platform to LISTEN and AMPLIFY their voices and their experiences. Please use your research skills to educate yourself on our history of racial inequality, rather than asking your Black peers to explain it to you. Check on your Black friends, labmates, professors and listen.

Remember their names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade. And so many others.

Join a protest and remember to wear a mask. You can find local events here.

If you are able please donate. There are so many good causes you can financially support to see the much-needed change in our community:
Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
The Bail Project, Inc
ACLU
Minneapolis Relief Fund

Lastly, Stony Brook University we are watching you and we are disappointed. Like many institutions of higher education, you make grand claims of promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity but where is the real action? A pledge is not enough. We need to do better.

In Solidarity,
GWiSE

COVID-19 Questions? 10 Answers from SBU

Stony Brook has set up a Coronavirus Information website with press releases and lots of information on the virus and how the school is handling it. Perhaps the best section for getting your questions answered is the FAQs, which are frequently updated with new information: https://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/coronavirus/faq/index.php

Here are 10 Questions and Answers we found the most relevant for graduate students at SBU.

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Grad Moms: Meet Kelly

In our second week of celebrating moms, say hello to Kelly, a PhD candidate in the Genetics program and mother of one!

EDUCATION: B.S. in Biology from Barry University; currently pursing a Ph.D. in Genetics

RESEARCH: Studies the temporal and spatial regulation of the C. elegans miRNA, lin-4

Continue reading “Grad Moms: Meet Kelly”

Grad Moms: Meet Krithika

Say hello to Krithika, a graduate student and mother who is pursing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Stony Brook University! Keep reading to learn more about her work on computer and electronic safety as well as the advice she has for new moms!

EDUCATION: M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Stony Brook University

CURRENT RESEARCH: Fun fact: There are literally 250 million battery disposals a day! What do I do? : Harvesting ambient energy to power electronic devices is gaining a lot of momentum over battery powered devices.My team has designed an encryption circuit using a novel energy harvesting technique and my research work in specific focuses on making this hardware trusted and secure from getting hacked.
FUTURE GOALS: Be a major contributor to make technology safe and secure for people to use by joining organizations such as the NSA. Just aiming 🙂

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Funding opportunities for graduate students with disabilities

By: Kate Corbin

Following up on our last post, here are potential funding opportunities for graduate students with disabilities.
Note: These resources were collected and summarized with Stony Brook University graduate students in mind. Your results may vary.

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