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Three biophysicists receive Burroughs Wellcome career awards


Three Rockefeller University scientists are among the 2008 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Awards at the Scientific Interface (CASI): Dirk Albrecht, postdoctoral associate in Cori Bargmann’s Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior, Maria Neimark Geffen, fellow at the Center for Studies in Physics and Biology, and Jan M. Skotheim, postdoctoral fellow in Eric Siggia’s Laboratory of Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics. The awards were announced in November.

Awarded to a small number of researchers — between 7 and 12 each of the last six years and 15 this year — the Scientific Interface award is a prestigious grant intended to foster the early career development of researchers with backgrounds in the physical or computational sciences whose work addresses biological questions and who are dedicated to pursuing a career in academic research. The award provides $500,000 over five years, meant to support up to two years of advanced postdoctoral training and the first three years of a faculty appointment.

Albrecht’s research involves the use of micron-scale tools created specifically to allow observation of neuronal activity in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, to better understand certain goal-directed behaviors such as chemotaxis.

Geffen, a Women & Science fellow, applies advanced statistical analysis and develops novel electrophysiological experiments to study how neurons in the auditory system encode information about natural sounds. Her ultimate aspiration is to extend these techniques to understand the brain mechanisms behind speech and music processing.

Skotheim applies dynamical systems theory to the study of cell cycle transitions. He is using the budding yeast cell to test the approach.

Since the CASI program launch in 2002, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund has awarded 63 grants, five of which have gone to Rockefeller University scientists.


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