Daughters and Famous Women Chemists
Jun04

Daughters and Famous Women Chemists

Earlier last month, you may have seen a beautiful set of images by Austin-based wedding and lifestyle photographer Jaime C. Moore. To celebrate the 5th birthday of her daughter Emma, Moore wrote: Set aside the Barbie dolls and Disney princesses for just a moment and let’s show our girls the real women they can be. Moore then had Emma do some five-year-old dressing and posing, but in character of some major female role models throughout history: Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhardt, Coco Chanel, Helen Keller, and Jane Goodall. (Commenters politely focused on Chanel’s business acumen and not her less savory political associations.) Moore’s photography is beautiful (and we may have to go down to Austin for a new series of family photos ourselves) and she captures all the promise and aspirations a five-year-old girl might have to do something other than be a helpless damsel-in-distress in psychotherapy because of a cruel and manipulative stepmother. With our PharmKid approaching 11, we still maintain a large house collection of costumes and various get-ups that began with Disney princesses and has now progressed to characters she and her friends concoct (now writing screenplays to accompany their stories while Dad is drafted for filming purposes). But I wish that we had instead been overrun with role-playing costumes for our daughter to emulate women of strong character and high intellect. So I got to thinking: Why don’t we have costumes for our girls to dress up as famous women scientists, especially female chemists? And with all due respect to Marie Curie and Irene Joilot-Curie, perhaps we might find more contemporary characters for our daughters. For me, as a North Carolinian and cancer pharmacologist, the chemist character I’d most love to see around here is the late Nobel laureate and Burroughs-Wellcome chemist, Gertrude (Trudy) Elion – in a single, striking royal blue gown. But here, even I fall into the trap of thinking of a deceased character. How about Ada Yonath, ribosome structural chemist and 2009 Nobel laureate in chemistry? Therefore, I turn to you, Dear Reader. If we were to, say, launch a Kickstarter campaign for the manufacture of famous women costume sets for young girls, who of today’s women chemists would be ones you’d like to see your daughter personify?...

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Burroughs-Wellcome Elion-Hitchings Building Open for Public Tours October 20th Only
Oct18

Burroughs-Wellcome Elion-Hitchings Building Open for Public Tours October 20th Only

I’m not an architect but I absolutely love quirky and creative buildings. During the eight years I lived in the foothills outside of Denver, I passed the clamshell-shaped home featured in Woody Allen’s 1973 movie, “Sleeper” – yes, the home with the Orgasmatron (a prop made from a cylindrical door like those used for research darkrooms). For you youngsters who may not know what I’m talking about, here’s a two-minute movie clip that’s probably safe for work. Well, from that era is another futuristic building designed by Paul Rudolph and completed in 1971 — then known as the Burroughs-Wellcome Headquarters Building in Research Triangle Park. The building has survived mergers and acquisitions as BW became Glaxo Wellcome and then GlaxoSmithKline and was recently sold to United Therapeutics. Like the “Sleeper” house in Colorado, the structure was featured cinematically in the 1983 movie “Brainstorm” with Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood. Now known as the Elion-Hitchings Building in honor of BW’s 1988 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine*, the building will be open to the public this weekend for the first time in decades, with thanks to the new owners. Since United Therapeutics is currently renovating the interior, the building will be empty but visitors will be welcome to take photographs. The event is sponsored by Triangle Modernist Houses and, at the time of this post, tickets ($9.95 each) are still available for all times this Saturday morning, October 20. For more background on the building and details on purchasing tickets: go to this page for Triangle Modernist Houses. I hope to see you on Saturday! *The 1988 Nobel to Trudy Elion, George Hitchings, and Sir James Black is one that very easily could have been justified as a chemistry Nobel. UPDATE 19 October, 7:30 pm EDT: I have three extra tickets for the 12:15 pm tour. I’ll give them away (yes, FREE – $9.95 face value) either as a pair and a single, or all three, to the first one or two people to leave a comment below that answers a question I posted on Twitter. Be sure to put your real email address so I can send you my receipt and instructions to pick up your tickets. The tickets have been given away – thank you for...

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Cristy Gelling: Pittsburgh Postdoc, Premier Poet
Apr11

Cristy Gelling: Pittsburgh Postdoc, Premier Poet

I just received a nice bit of news from my alumni Facebook page of the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop which I took last summer with C&EN colleague, Lauren Wolf. Turns out that our classmate Cristy Gelling has been recognized by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) as the editor’s choice winner of their “Science in Stanzas” poetry competition. The competition was launched by Angela Hopp, Editor of ASBMB Today, and to recognize the other types of creativity possessed by scientists attending the upcoming Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego starting next weekend (April 21-25). The judges were themselves rather accomplished poets and humorists in science. Gelling’s lovely poem is entitled, “Consistent with this, cell extracts from the iba57Δ strain showed virtually no aconitase activity (Fig. 2A),” and is only slightly longer than the title. Cristy is currently a postdoc at the University of Pittsburgh studying alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. She’s been in the States since she earned her PhD at the University of New South Wales, Australia, in 2008 for work on a maturation factor in iron-sulfur enzymes like aconitase. Gelling also blogs at The Blobologist and was recently named an editor for ScienceSeeker.org, a curated aggregator of the best in science blogging. So as to drive as much traffic as possible to the ASBMB site, I am telling you to go to the link here to read Cristy’s work of art. And while you’re at it, go to these links to see and read the works of all of the prize winners: First place: Lost in Translation, Andrew Brown Second place: Angiogenesis, Cheryl Ainslie-Waldman Third place: Ode to the Lab, Jesus Manuel Ayala Figueroa Honorable mention: Song of Sanger, Gail S. Begley Honorable mention: How … Understanding, Karen...

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