April 10, 2013


GSA Conferences

This Friday, April 12, 2013, is the deadline for abstract submission for the 19th International C. elegans Meeting, June 26-30, 2013 at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Don’t miss this meeting that features past GSA Board member (2007-2009) Victor Ambros (Univ of Mass Med Sch) delivering the keynote address.  Invited plenary session speakers include:  Tony Hyman (Max Planck Inst, Dresden, Germany); Benjamin Podbilewicz (Technion Insrael Inst of Tech); GSA Secretary Anne Villeneuve (Stanford Univ); and Marian Walhout (Univ of Mass Med Sch).

Drosophila 2013 Recap

Congratulations to the nine early career scientists – three undergraduates, three graduate students and three postdoctoral scholars – who won the GSA Poster Awards at the 54th Annual Drosophila Research Conference in Washington, D.C., April 3-7, 2013.  The recipients are: Undergrads – 1st- Emily J. Simon (UNC at Chapel Hill); 2nd- Susanna E. Brantley (Emory Univ); 3rd- Marvin Nayan (Univ of Washington); Graduate Students – 1st- Jermaine Ross (NIH); 2nd- Rebecca A. Somer (Univ of Utah Sch of Med); 3rd- Balint C. Kacsoh (Emory Univ); Postdocs – 1st- Miriam Osterfield (Princeton); 2nd- Pam Vanderzalm (Univ of Chicago); and 3rd- Bahar H. Sahin (Bogazici Universitesei, Istanbul, Turkey).  For the first time ever, winners were picked via crowd-sourcing from among 745 eligible posters submitted by early career researchers.

Nine students who are undergraduate juniors and seniors received Victoria Finnerty Undergraduate Travel Awards to attend the Drosophila Research Conference and present their research.  The nine students are: Susanna E. Brantley, senior (Emory Univ);  Gina D. Castelvecchi, junior (Univ of Wisc–Madison); Robert W. Fernandez, senior (York College, CUNY, Queens); Michelle A. Frazer, senior (Univ of Mich–Ann Arbor); Samuel Hutton Friedman, junior (Vanderbilt Univ); Robert A. Gingras, junior (Hofstra Univ); Gary Iacobucci, senior (SUNY at Buffalo); Jihyun Irizarry, senior (Cal State Univ–LA); Sierra K. Mosticone-Wangansteen, senior (Randolph-Macon College, VA).  This was the second year these travel grants were presented in memory of Victoria Finnerty, a Drosophila geneticist at Emory University and a passionate undergraduate mentor and teacher. For more information, see the press release.

Congratulations to Weizhe Hong, recipient of the 2013 Larry Sandler Memorial Award for his doctoral dissertation on “Cell Surface Codes for Olfactory Circuit Assembly.” Weizhe worked in Liqun Luo’s lab at Stanford University.

Also presented during the Drosophila Conference were several of GSA’s 2013 awards. Past President (2010) Scott Hawley (Stowers Inst) received the George W. Beadle Award; Elaine Ostrander (NHGRI/NIH) received the Genetics Society of America Medal; and, Jonathan K. Pritchard (HHMI, Univ of Chicago) received the Edward Novitski Prize


For photos of the conference and the award presentations, see GSA’s Facebook album. Also check out the beautiful still image by Joanna Krzemień and the video image by Pan Yufeng, who were winners of the 2013 Drosophila Image Awards.

The GSA Journals

The April issue of G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics is online and has a wide range of articles from using Drosophila as a model to understand parthenogenesis to an ultra-high-density genetic map of lettuce. Other articles include a look at donor DNA structure using ZFN-mediated gene targeting in Drosophila, the public Biotinidase Gene Variants Registry, and the genetic basis of ammonium toxicity resistance in a strain of yeast isolated in sake breweries.

In GENETICS' latest Educational Primer to help use primary literature in the classroom, "'To Bee or Not to Bee' Male or Female?", Andrew Schurko unpacks the more challenging concepts presented in a paper about alternative splicing and the sex determination cascade in the Honeybee (Nissen et al., published in GENETICS in November 2012). Schurko also provides discussion questions for educators, allowing them to use Nissen et al. as a springboard to discuss Apis mellifera, demonstrate the application of molecular genetic tools to better understand the regulation of transcription and splicing, and explore the evolutionary origins of genes by considering the functions of orthologs and paralogs in different species.

Trainee Travel Awards

These are the final days to apply for the GSA Undergraduate Travel Awards for financial support. If you are an undergraduate GSA member who plans to attend and present your research at the 19th International C. elegans Meeting at UCLA, June 26-30, apply now.  Deadline for application:  Friday, April 12, 2013.

Career Development

College and university faculty and instructional staff may wish to apply to attend one of several regional Summer Institutes on Undergraduate Education sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and The National Academies. These five-day workshops will help participants enhance their teaching skills to transform the undergraduate classroom. Many GSA members have benefited from participation in past Summer Institutes.

GSA’s Career Series has some new interviews!  Read about how these PhDs went from scientific training in academia to a diversity of careers.  New interviews feature the president of a graduate institute and a scientist now directing a university's training and diversity office.

GSA Members in the News

Long-time GSA member Stephen J. Elledge (Harvard Med Sch) is a recipient of a 2013 Canada Gairdner Award for his work in DNA repair.  Stephen was the 2005 recipient of the GSA Medal. For more information, see the Gairdner Awards website.

GSA members Joan Steitz (Yale), Alison Gammie (Princeton) and Emily Troemel (UCSD) were honored by the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) with awards for their contributions to the field of microbiology. For more information, see here.

Past GSA Board member (2000-2002) and Nobel Laureate (2009) Elizabeth H. Blackburn (UCSF) was featured in an April 8, 2013 article in the New York Times that discusses her idea of a lab test that measures telomeres.  Since shortened telomeres may be a sign of illness, she “thinks measuring them could give doctors and patients a chance to intervene early and maybe even prevent disease.”


Earlier today, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2014, which includes increases for the nation’s key science agencies over FY 2012 final funding levels. In particular, the budget would fund the National Institutes of Health at $31 billion (1.1% increase), the National Science Foundation at $7.6 billion (8.4% increase), USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative at $383 million (37% increase), and the Department of Energy Office of Science at $5 billion (5.7% increase). GSA and our partners are combing through the details and will have updates on the GSA website.

Thousands of people made a unified call for supporting biomedical research and NIH at the Rally for Medical Research on Monday April 8, 2013 in Washington, D.C. GSA was one of more than 200 partner organizations in the Rally, joining with others to call on Congress for increasing support for science. Speakers at the Rally included Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rockefeller University president Marc Tessier-Lavigne, actress Maura Tierney, and several patient advocates. GSA was at the Rally and has a photo slideshow on our Facebook page.

And finally…

Yeast research in Oregon may get official recognition as the state is poised to name Saccharomyces cerevisiae as the state’s official microbe. Although the intention is to recognize Oregon’s microbrew movement, we like to think it also honors yeast genetics research.

Do you have a brief announcement to submit to GSA e-News?
E-news items include news about GSA members – new positions, book publication, awards or grants received and obits; short policy items; brief research news items and grant programs; and, award nomination announcements.

Deadline for next issue: April 19, 2013.  Send items to Phyllis Edelman, pedelman@genetics-gsa.org.