The highlights of biochemist S. Lawrence Zipursky’s 25-year-long career in neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles, are the surprises he’s unearthed along the way. Topping his list is one gene in particular, Dscam, which codes for tens of thousands of different protein products that may help give neurons distinct molecular signatures (p. 40). “I didn’t think that kind of recognition specificity existed in the nervous system,” he says. The son of a hematologist, Zipursky found his father’s passion for running a research lab contagious. “I think it caught my imagination,” he says. He went on to obtain a BA in chemistry and a PhD in molecular biology before studying brain circuitry as a postdoc at the California Institute of Technology. He enjoys playing tennis and kayaking in his free time.
Mary Beth Aberlin, new deputy editor of The Scientist, wasn’t at all seduced by physical organic chemistry while pursuing an MA at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Instead, she fell in love with the biomedical sciences after going to work in a virology lab in New York City, and went on to obtain a PhD in biology from the Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Aberlin went into publishing after living in Costa Rica and Argentina and raising three kids. Before taking up her new post, she worked as managing editor of The Sciences and executive editor of Natural History. “I’ve learned more science working as a magazine editor than I ever did in academia,” Aberlin says, “and I’m delighted to continue my education at The Scientist.”
Science journalist Brendan Borrell is no stranger to scientific fieldwork. But after braving the rain forests of Panama and Costa Rica to do integrative biology research as a University of California, Berkeley, PhD student, he turned to journalism. “I like telling stories,” Borrell says, especially ones that explore how politics, social issues, and science intertwine. On page 46, he writes about the looming global scarcity of phosphate and what running out of the essential mineral might mean for life on Earth. “Should we act now to find alternatives of phosphate?” he asks. A native of Houston, Texas, Borrell is now based in Brooklyn, New York.
In April 2010, The Scientist needed more help in the Web-development department and Theresa Englehart, a graphic-design graduate of Rutgers University in New Jersey, was hired to save the day. And that she did. Until the end of October, she worked long hours preparing the print issue for the magazine’s Web site, sending out daily E-mails and generally holding the Web site together. “The job had its ups and downs,” she said, “but I definitely found myself reading through a lot of the magazine. It never hurts to learn something new.” Englehart has also worked as a graphic designer for Current Medicine Group and The Courier Post in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.