Dear Colleagues, 

I am pleased to include another issue of RFS Briefings with some timely and encouraging updates on women in science.

The Genome Writers Guild (GWG) and Rosalind Franklin Society have joined forces again to recognize amazing scientists by awarding the Rosalind Franklin Medal. This award marries together GWG’s core objectives of facilitating genome writing conversation, collaboration, and exposure with the Rosalind Franklin Society’s goals of enabling more women to achieve higher recognition, visibility, appointments and success in industry, academia, or government. The recipient of this award embodies the missions of both organizations.

Congratulations to the Rosalind Franklin Medal 2022 Awardee, Dr. Leslie Mitchell:

A co-founder of Neochromosome, Inc., a biotechnology company enabling biological engineering at genome-scale. Prior to Neo, Leslie was a post-doc at New York University Langone Health and worked extensively on chromosome and genome engineering in both yeast and mammalian systems and helped lead the international Synthetic Yeast Genome Project, Sc2.0, aiming to build a designer yeast genome from scratch. Leslie completed her PhD in systems biology at the University of Ottawa in Canada.

Congratulations to the Rosalind Franklin Medal 2022 Runner-Up: Dr. Betül Kaçar:

An assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Bacteriology. She received her Ph.D. in Biomolecular Chemistry from Emory University, and completed her postdoctoral studies at NASA Astrobiology Institute and Harvard University on Origins of Life and Evolutionary Biology. Her research group investigates the coevolution of cellular life and environment in lifeforms extinct and extant, using experimental systems. Dr. Kaçar received the Stanley Miller Early Career Award and the NASA Early Career Award. In 2022, she was selected to direct a new NASA-funded multimillion-dollar astrobiology research center focusing on life’s early evolution with emphasis on the natural selection elements over geologic time and to co-lead NASA’s new research coordination network on early cellular life. She has partnered with the UN Women Generation Equality Campaign to support education of girls and women globally. Asteroid 284919 Kaçar, discovered by astronomers using the NASA WISE space telescope, was named in her honor. 

Please continue to share important news and opportunities with us so that we may share it with you, and others who are committed to supporting the careers of exceptional women in science. 

Stay safe and sound

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society

Biden taps prominent Harvard cancer surgeon to head National Cancer Institute.

President Joe Biden has selected cancer surgeon Monica Bertagnolli as the next director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). One of Bertagnolli’s first tasks will be to shape NCI’s role in Biden’s reignited Cancer Moonshot, which aims to slash the U.S. cancer death rate in half within 25 years. Bertagnolli will also head NCI efforts already underway to boost grant funding rates, diversify the cancer research workplace, and reduce higher death rates for Black people with cancer. Read more. (Image: ASCO; Glenn Davenport, Science)

Meet the Ukrainian number theorist who won math’s highest honor.
On July 5, Maryna Viazovska accepted her Fields Medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Helsinki, Finland. At the ceremony, the IMU cited Viazovska’s many mathematical accomplishments, in particular her proof that an arrangement called the E8 lattice is the densest packing of spheres in eight dimensions. She is just the second woman to receive this honor in the medal’s 86-year history. Read more.

Joyce C. Lashof, doctor who shattered glass ceilings, dies at 96.
Dr. Joyce C. Lashof, who fought for health equity and broke barriers as the first woman to head a state public health department, died on June 4 at an assisted living community in Berkeley. “From the start, her work in medicine and public health was deeply animated by a profound commitment to issues of social justice in our society,” said Nancy Krieger, a professor of social epidemiology at Harvard. “That included issues around racism, that included issues around social class, that included issues around gender.” Read more.

The explosive ambitions of Kate the Chemist.

Kate Biberdorf, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has appeared on NBC’s “Today,” “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and other programs with color-changing chemicals, magnetic slime and bright, loud bangs. Dr. Biberdorf said she owed her passion for chemistry to her high school chemistry teacher. “My dream, truthfully, is to be her for the next generation of kids,” she said. Read more. Image by Kate the Chemist.

Meet the woman who makes the James Webb space telescope work.

“Give me a telescope, and I can come up with something good to do with it,” says Jane Rigby, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who serves as the agency’s operations project scientist for the $10-billion James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most powerful off-world observatory yet built by humankind. Image credit: NASA/David P. Friedlander. Read more.

Early-career research fellowship opportunity! Application deadline: August 24, 2022.
The Education Research track goal focuses on contributing to the advancement of K-12 educational equity related to science and environmental literacy in the Gulf of Mexico region or Alaska by considering the recent impact of disasters on educational opportunities for students in vulnerable communities. Read more.

Nature science icon Jane Goodall gets special Barbie made from recycled plastics.

“Kids need more role models like Dr. Jane Goodall," said Lisa McKnight, Mattel's executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls, said in a statement. "We hope that this collection and homage to a groundbreaking pioneer for women in science and conservation inspires kids to learn more about green careers, how they can protect the planet, and act out sustainable stories through doll play.” Read more. Image: Mattel.

Arnold P. Gold Foundation is looking for a new CEO.
The Arnold P. Gold Foundation (Gold Foundation), the nation’s premier advocate for humanism in healthcare, invites applications and nominations for the role of President and Chief Executive Officer (President). Read more.

The engineer who teaches our bodies to heal themselves.

“Biomaterials can play a key role in helping our bodies heal themselves,” said Kristi Anseth, who received the 2020 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science international award in late June. In an interview with EL PAÍS, the researcher who specializes in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, and also designs synthetic materials that imitate our tissues, said, “We are using materials designed for textile products like mattresses or clothing, and making them interact with the human body.” Read more. Image: EL PAÍS.

2022-2023 Gold Humanism Scholars at the Harvard Macy Institute.
The Arnold P. Gold Foundation announced the 2022-2023 Gold Humanism Scholars at the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators:

  • Erica J. Harris, MD, of Einstein Healthcare Network, whose project focuses on developing an “innovative trauma informed care curriculum for diverse learners in an urban emergency department”
  • Jasmine R. Marcelin, MD, FACP, FIDSA, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), whose project “JEDI with Jasmine” focuses on “building trust through developing inclusive spaces to discuss principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in healthcare for internal medicine residents and faculty”
  • David Ansari, PhD, of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, whose project will focus on “developing a library of clinical scenarios for the First Death program using technology- and human-based simulation.” Read more.

The astrophysicist who sculpts stars before they are born.
“As both an artist and an astronomer, you have to be a careful observer of what’s happening in nature and really try to understand what things look like. I think that my affinity for images and my desire to visualize things definitely feed into my scientific curiosity. After all, astronomy is really the science of light and images,” says Nia Imara, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Read more.

Four researchers with MIT ties earn Schmidt Science Fellowships.
Four researchers, 3 of whom are women, with MIT ties — Juncal Arbelaiz, Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao, Sandya Subramanian, and Hannah Zlotnick ’17 — have been honored with competitive Schmidt Science Fellowships. The four MIT-affiliated researchers are among 29 Schmidt Science Fellows from around the world who will receive postdoctoral support for either one or two years with an annual stipend of $100,000, along with individualized mentoring and participation in the program’s Global Meeting Series. Read more. 

Marianna Limas, Social Media Manager
Nilda Rivera, Partnership and Events Manager