Courtesy of Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz

On the desk in Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz's office sits a small box labeled "Mr. Wizard's Golgi Model Kit." Along one edge it reads, "Fun for whole lab! No biochemistry, photobleaching, or batteries required." A gift from a former postdoc, the homemade kit is stuffed with sugar packets and other cafeteria-pilfered goodies that Lippincott-Schwartz likes using to demonstrate how the Golgi apparatus – the flattened stack of membranes responsible for sorting and packaging cellular proteins – assembles and operates.

Lippincott-Schwartz, head of the Organelle Biology Unit at the National Institutes of Health, is a big fan of visual aids. She grew up in a house where the periodic table was displayed prominently on the kitchen wall. This passion for looking at things and seeing how they work now drives her investigation of the ins and outs of membrane trafficking.

Using green fluorescent protein (GFP) and its...

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