Inaugural 2023 Weill Institute Emerging Scholars Announced

The Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology at Cornell University has announced eight recipients of the inaugural Weill Institute Emerging Scholars Award. The Weill Institute Emerging Scholars were selected in a competition open to graduate students from academic institutions external to Cornell across the U.S. and Canada, and the eight awardees were chosen based on their exemplary research achievements in molecular and cell biology, broadly defined, and a commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“We received many outstanding applications, and the selected winners represent an incredible group of bright and exciting future leaders in life sciences,” said Marcus Smolka, Interim Director of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology and Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics. “These emerging scholars have made impressive scientific achievements and demonstrated a strong commitment to building inclusive research communities.”

The Scholars will convene on Cornell’s Ithaca campus from Oct. 9-10, 2023 for a two-day event featuring the inaugural Weill Institute Emerging Scholars Symposium followed by the 7th Biennial Weill Institute Symposium. At the Emerging Scholars Symposium on Oct. 9, 2023, the awardees will deliver research presentations and engage with Cornell graduate students, postdocs, and faculty in the life sciences. The awardees will subsequently attend the Weill Institute Symposium on Oct. 10, 2023, which features lectures from highly distinguished invited speakers in the life sciences.

“We are excited to host such a diverse group of individuals coming from a wide range of life science fields,” said Julien Morival, a postdoctoral fellow and member of the selection committee. “Each will bring a unique perspective, which we are certain will generate exciting research talks of interest to the broader Cornell community.”

Michelle Heeney, a PhD candidate in Plant Biology and member of the selection committee, added, “This will be an extraordinary day with the brightest minds in molecular and cellular biology converging at Cornell’s Weill Institute. I am excited for the chance to meet the future leaders shaping tomorrow’s discoveries at the Weill Institute Emerging Scholars Symposium. It’s time to explore, engage, and shape the future of science.”

Overall, these events will celebrate the individual accomplishments of the Weill Institute Emerging Scholars, foster connections among this inaugural cohort of future leaders in molecular and cell biology, and facilitate intellectual exchange between the Emerging Scholars and members of the life sciences community at Cornell.

2023 Weill Institute Emerging Scholar recipients:

Brandon Chen, University of Michigan, Cellular and Molecular Biology, “Mechanistic insights into endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria contact sites regulation in tumor metabolic rewiring.”

Hannah Fung, Stanford University, Biology, “Multi-scale dynamics define the self-renewing capacity of Arabidopsis stomatal lineage ground cells.”

Michael Gilbert, University of Pennsylvania, Biochemistry and Biophysics, “Neuropeptides facilitate elaborated division of labor in leafcutter ants.”

Mehmet Oguz Gok, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Cell and Molecular Biology, “Spatial regulation of receptor-mediated mitophagy.”

Qixiang He, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Biophysics, “Human CST sets the stage for Pol⍺-primase de novo primer synthesis at telomere overhang.”

Duc Hunyh, Duke University, Biochemistry, “Site-specific O-GlcNAcylation of neurofilament light regulates its forms and functions.”

T. Curtis Shoyer, Duke University, Biomedical Engineering, “Coupling during collective cell migration is controlled by a vinculin mechanochemical switch.”

Kayla Simanek, University of Albany, Biomedical Sciences, “Quorum-sensing synthase mutations re-calibrate autoinducer concentrations in clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to enhance pathogenesis.”

About the Weill Institute: Established in 2008, The Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology has thrived as an interdisciplinary hub of life science research at Cornell. Situated in Weill Hall at the heart of Cornell’s Ithaca campus, its twelve laboratories perform cutting-edge cell biological research spanning basic molecular mechanisms to human diseases. The Institute brings together a diverse group of more than 150 faculty, students, and postdoctoral scholars from outstanding programs across campus in research areas that might not otherwise engage in crosstalk, including Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Computational Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology & Genetics, and Plant Biology.

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