Keith D. Wilkinson (far left) began studying the ubiquitin pathway in 1979 because it was “brand new.” He was recruited to Nobel Prize–winner Irwin Rose’s lab at the Fox Chase Cancer Center just a few short years after ubiquitin was first discovered. Today, Wilkinson is still figuring out the mysteries of a protein that is found in all eukaryotic cells and is fundamental to the cell cycle. He is currently identifying a host of enzymes that regulate ubiquitin-dependent processes, with the expectation that the enzymes will be good drug targets in disease. Wilkinson first met his coauthor David Fushman at a biannual ubiquitin meeting, where “everybody who is anybody in this field got their start.” Chains of ubiquitin are only distinguished by their pattern of connections, and Fushman wants to understand how the connections affect the signaling process. In their feature article, "On the Chain Gang," you can read about how a protein that got its moniker by simply being everywhere is turning out to have a lot of critical intracellular roles.
Chris Somerville’s expertise in biotechnology and interest in alternative energies landed him the position of Director of the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) at UC Berkeley, where he supervises a staff of 500 from all backgrounds, and administers a $350-million-dollar grant from BP. Somerville plans to use EBI’s research findings to help make BP one of the most successful biofuels companies in the industry, and drag in the rest of the energy sector as a result. To change a large, fossil-fuel-based energy company, Somerville thinks, is “the only way to change the world.” Somerville was drawn to Heather Youngs’s analytical skills while she did her postdoc for him at Stanford, and later recruited her to the EBI as an analyst. For her PhD, Youngs was studying how fungi degrade cell walls, when she realized that the biofuel industry wanted to know the same thing. After running a lab at Michigan Technological University and studying how biomass is constructed and deconstructed, Youngs decided she wanted to make more of a contribution, and “stepped away from the bench to look at the bigger picture.” She joined EBI, where she focuses on assessing emerging biofuels technology—from feedstock to fuel. Youngs recently contributed to a study detailing how California can help reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions across all sectors. Read their take on the future of biofuel crops in "Growing Better Biofuel Crops."
To his job as the new publisher of The Scientist Rob D’Angelo brings not just tremendous enthusiasm, but more than 20 years of experience managing successful B-to-B media organizations within the pharma and life science industry. He has served as sales director at BioTechniques; president of the BioScience Group at Informa Business Information; and publisher at Advanstar Communications and Thomson/Medical Economics. At The Scientist, Rob is responsible for the daily business operations of the magazine. “My first couple months as publisher have been unbelievable. I am excited and fortunate to be The Scientist’s publisher. It’s an outstanding brand that provides a refreshing perspective for all life science researchers and professionals.”