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MCB PROGRAM DIRECTOR STEVEN CLOUSE NAMED 2016 AAAS FELLOW

Dr. Steven Clouse is standing in front of green trees.

Dr. Steven Clouse, a Cellular Dynamics and Function Program Director in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences and Professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, has been elected a 2016 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS). Since 1874, the AAAS has bestowed this honor on select members for their “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.” Dr. Clouse was nominated by peers in the Section on Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources “for distinguished contributions to the field of plant biology, particularly for pioneering studies of brassinosterorid signaling and plant receptor kinases.”

After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis and completing postdoctoral work in plant molecular biology at the Salk Institute, Dr. Clouse began his independent research career in 1988 as an assistant professor at San Diego State University. At that time, a class of naturally occurring plant compounds termed “brassinosteroids” had been structurally characterized, but little was known about their molecular mechanism of action. In collaboration with Dr. Trevor McMorris and Dr. Michael Baker, experts in steroid chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Clouse and his students cloned one of the first brassinosteroid-regulated genes and identified one of the first brassinosteroid steroid-insensitive mutants in plants. The launch of this research project was supported by a Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) from NSF – the first of many NSF awards received over a 25 year period that were essential to developing a research program to determine the mechanisms of brassinosteroid action in plant growth and development.

In 1996, Dr. Clouse moved to North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He began a collaboration with Dr. Steven Huber, a kinase biochemist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Dr. Michael Goshe, an expert in proteomics and mass spectrometry at North Carolina State University, to determine the role of protein phosphorylation in brassinosteroid signaling. This work was supported by several NSF grants from MCB, culminating in two large Arabidopsis 2010 program awards that allowed the work to expand dramatically both in terms of the size of the group as well as new research avenues involving high throughput proteomic approaches.

When reflecting on his election as AAAS fellow, Dr. Clouse said, “I was very pleased that my peers considered our 25 year research effort on brassinosteroid action to be worthwhile. The success of the program was the result of hard work by more than 30 postdoctoral scientists and graduate students and being fortunate to have excellent collaborators, particularly Drs. Huber and Goshe. The initial belief of NSF program directors in the importance of our work and the continued and growing NSF support over the years was crucial for the success of the program, both in terms of research and training, and is greatly appreciated. I feel fortunate to be able to serve as an NSF program director near the end of my career, where I can perhaps contribute by identifying new projects that may continue to enjoy the long-term success that we experienced.”

Please join MCB as we congratulate Dr. Steven Clouse on his election to the rank of AAAS Fellow!

This work is partially funded by the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Award #MCB – 1021363, #MCB – 0419819, and #MCB – 0742411.

Mr. Casey Bethel: Recipient of Georgia’s 2017 Teacher of the Year Award Following a NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET)

Casey and Raquel

Dr. Raquel Lieberman (Left) and Mr. Casey Bethel, Georgia’s 2017 Teacher of the Year (Right)

Mr. Casey Bethel was recently honored as Georgia’s 2017 Teacher of the Year. He teaches advanced placement (AP) Biology, AP Physics, Biology, and Physical Sciences at New Manchester High School in Douglasville, Georgia. Recipients of this prestigious award are outstanding local and state public school teachers in Georgia who serve as shining examples of excellence in education, and Mr. Bethel is the first STEM teacher in over a decade to receive this award. He notes, “This award is a huge honor, and in many ways it serves as validation of the hard work and sacrifices I have put into growing in this career. I hope that it further inspires my students to work hard and pursue their dreams.”

Mr. Bethel credits his accomplishment and growth as an educator to the many summers he spent working in Dr. Raquel Lieberman’s lab supported in part by a Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)-funded Research Experience for Teachers (RET) supplement. As described in the Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 12-075), RET supplements enable K-12 science educators to participate in NSF-funded scientific research projects with the goal of enhancing their professional development through the experience of conducting research at the emerging frontiers of science in order to bring new knowledge to the classroom. Dr. Lieberman actively recruited Mr. Bethel and requested a RET supplement when designing the broader impacts of her MCB-funded 2009 CAREER award. You can find out more about the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award here.

The Lieberman lab uses techniques, such as protein crystallography and computer modeling, to determine structure–function relationships of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma. Mr. Bethel notes, “Dr. Lieberman welcomed me and made me a contributing member of her team. Every year since, my wealth of knowledge has grown and my teaching practices have improved. My students are better prepared for college science courses now, and more than 50 of them are excelling in STEM majors and careers.” Additional outcomes of the RET experience for Mr. Bethel and Dr. Lieberman include co-authorship of a scientific research paper undergoing peer review, and the publication of a teaching unit describing multimedia-guided inquiry for high school science classrooms in the Journal of Chemical Education.

Join us in congratulating Mr. Casey Bethel as Georgia’s 2017 Teacher of the Year and acknowledging the commitment of Dr. Raquel Lieberman to expanding the broader impacts of her research as MCB celebrates this outstanding recognition.

This work is partially funded by the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Award #MCB-0845445.

Dr. Kamal Shukla Honored by the Biophysical Society

Biophysical Society

Photo Courtesy of the Biophysical Society.

Dr. Kamal Shukla, Program Director in the Molecular Biophysics Cluster in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, was recognized by the Biophysical Society as the 2015 recipient of their prestigious Distinguished Service Award. Recipients of the Distinguished Service Awards have made an exceptional contribution to the field of biophysics and in its advancement outside of research.  Dr. Shukla was recognized for “his tireless efforts in promoting research at the interface between the biological and physical sciences and exceptional leadership in uniting scientists from across many Directorates at the National Science Foundation.”

Dr. Shukla is an Elected Fellow (2000) of the AAAS and has received many awards from the NSF, including the Director’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010. Join us in congratulating Dr. Shukla as the Division celebrates this outstanding recognition.