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Chris Voigt: Biology's toy maker

By | August 1, 2007

Credit: © Cody Pickens" /> Credit: © Cody Pickens In May, two years after Chris Voigt moved into his new lab at the University of California, San Francisco, his light-colored wood desks and cabinets still smell like sawdust - just as you'd imagine a traditional toy maker's shop to smell. Voigt doesn't build toys out of wood, however; he builds them out of biological parts. Having trained in chemical engineering, Voigt never intended to become a biologist. As a

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Reuben Shaw: A fated pathway

By | July 1, 2007

Credit: omeallyphoto.com" /> Credit: omeallyphoto.com Reuben Shaw wanted nothing more than to study tumor suppressor genes, but his results took him on another path. "As fate has it," he sighs in mock defeat, "diabetes will be a part of my research from here on out." In 1993 Shaw joined Tyler Jacks' laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a graduate student. Jacks' lab studied a number of tumor suppressors, including p53 and retinoblas

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Liam Paninski: Neural Code Breaker

By | June 1, 2007

Credit: © 2007 Greg Kessler Photography" /> Credit: © 2007 Greg Kessler Photography The lone distraction in Liam Paninski's austere New York City office is an acoustic guitar lying strings up on his desk. A computer idles beside the instrument, and empty bookshelves line the room that the soft-spoken Columbia University professor of theoretical neuroscience jokingly calls his "lab." Paninski's decor parallels his approach to neuroscience. The statistical

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Amy Kiger: A Place on the Edge

By | May 1, 2007

Credit: © Frank Rogozienski Photography" /> Credit: © Frank Rogozienski Photography Amy Kiger admits to a healthy dose of yeast envy from time to time. In her tidy, two-year-old lab at the University of California, San Diego, she picks up a thin tube of Drosophila to explain how she?s using the flies to investigate membrane-mediated events that guide cell shape. Yeast genetics may be faster, easier, and better worked out, but for Kiger one of the most exci

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Rachel Wilson: Death Defying

By | April 1, 2007

Credit: © LEAH FASTEN PHOTOGRAPHY" /> Credit: © LEAH FASTEN PHOTOGRAPHY Rachel Wilson isn't used to backing down from a challenge. The subject of her graduate work at the University of California, San Francisco - lovingly referred to by peers as "the project of death" - sought the molecular mediator of retrograde signaling, how postsynaptic cells communicate with presynaptic cells. As the list of candidates on her legal pad dwindled, her colleagues offered some less than helpful advi

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Fabrizio Chiti: Aggregation from Every Angle

By | March 1, 2007

Credit: © 2007 PAOLO CAPPELLI" /> Credit: © 2007 PAOLO CAPPELLI On weekends, Fabrizio Chiti can be found behind the wheel of his RV, exploring the Italian countryside with his wife and daughter. A decade ago, as an undergraduate at the University of Florence, Chiti never imagined he would be doing science in his home country, let alone in the same department where he became fascinated by proteins. "I was told there were no chances for me," Chiti says. "The opportunities and funding f

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James Whisstock: Dramatic Beginnings

By | February 1, 2007

Credit: SHARYN CAIRNS PHOTOGRAPHY LOCATION CREDIT: AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA" /> Credit: SHARYN CAIRNS PHOTOGRAPHY LOCATION CREDIT: AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA When James Whisstock finished his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1996, he was in the mood for an adventure. So he didn't have to think too hard when Monash University biochemist Stuart Stone offered him a postdoc to study the serpin superfamily of prote

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Nathan Wolfe: From Bench to Bush

By | January 1, 2007

Credit: JASON VARNEY/VARNEYPHOTO.COM" /> Credit: JASON VARNEY/VARNEYPHOTO.COM With his curly locks, beard, and swarthy complexion, epidemiologist Nathan Wolfe seems to fit right in with the hunters he works with in Cameroon. Sometimes, he even wears one of their traditional robes, blue with gold embroidery, just in case. "He's quite well-accepted," says Don Burke of Pittsburgh University, his former postdoctoral adviser who met Wolfe at a conference on emerging diseases. They sha

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Victoria J. Orphan: Deep Partnerships

By | December 1, 2006

Credit: © Ric Frazier Productions" /> Credit: © Ric Frazier Productions Victoria Orphan wanted to be a marine biologist ever since kindergarten. She even wrote it down in a Dr. Seuss book called My Book About Me. It still sits in her childhood bedroom, which she had painted to resemble a deep-sea scene. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Orphan studied marine biology and was headed in the direction of big-game ecology when she took a course with Ed DeLong,

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Sohyun Ahn: Thinking Things Through

By | November 1, 2006

Credit: JASON VARNEY | http://www.VARNEYPHOTO.COMVARNEYPHOTO.COM_blank" /> Credit: JASON VARNEY | http://www.VARNEYPHOTO.COMVARNEYPHOTO.COM_blank Commenting on the immaculate desk of Sohyun Ahn elicits an embarrassed giggle, but practically any other question gets a thoughtful look from behind her blue cat's-eye glasses. Throughout her career, Ahn has made a habit of stepping back and studying the situation before acting. "It's important to take a break and think about thing

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