BIOL 500 Transformations in Biology: Uncommon Leaders

This seminar was funded by the UW-ADVANCE program to examine the contributions of women and minorities as leaders in biology - people who have transformed our dicipline through a variety of avenues ranging from scientific contributions, to economic, social and political domains. We tried to uncover stories of effective leadership in the face of dauting societal, cultural or physical barriers. This "Uncommon Leaders" Web site, was put together by Fernanda Oyarzun, a student in the class. Here, we detail the accomplishments of these scientists and many of these leaders in Biology will be invited to UW to give seminars in the Biology Department.



studies tevolution oal models. She

Bradshaw, Toby
Toby Bradshaw is an Associate Chair and Graduate Program Coordinator for the Department of Biology. As a mentor of four female graduate students, and the father of a teenage daughter interested in a science career, he has gained a new appreciation of the need to make the academic environment more hospitable and equitable for women and other underrepresented groups. As leaders of the UW's ADVANCE program point out, when departmental cultures improve for women and minorites, they improve for everyone! Recognizing the contributions made by uncommon leaders is a big step in the right direction.

was one of two women in her undm

Daniel, Tom
Tom Daniel is the Department Chair and the Joan and Richard Komen Endowed Chair in Biology. He is an active participant and fan of the UW Advance Program. As a son of holocaust survivors, he has had a longstanding interest in policies that promote inclusiveness in all aspects of human endeavor. Recipient of the MacArthur Award and the UW Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, he views graduate and undergraduate learning as a major inspiration.

years of computer programming afour different companies, she worked

Nishikawa, Kiisa

(Visiting professor)

Kiisa Nishikawa is an Advance Visiting Scholar in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington, and a Regents' Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She has mentored several female, Hispanic and Native American students, and has served as director of the NIH-funded Minority Student Development Program at NAU since 1993. She believes that, at this critical time in history, the future of humanity depends upon achieving inclusiveness in academia, as well as in science and technology. of
with oy on

se experiences have led her

Swalla, Billie
Billie J. Swalla is an Associate Professor of Biology who believes that growing up with 6 rowdy brothers prepared her more for Academia than any of her formal training. She was a AAUW (American Association of University Women) Sara Berliner Postdoctoral Fellow at the time when AAUW began to study when and why women drop out of science. This led to a life-long interest in biases that arise due to gender and race, and how to best work against these biases. She is an active participant in the UW ADVANCE Program and jumped at the opportunity to teach "Uncommon Leaders" as a graduate course. Billie studies the evolution of the chordates, a unique body plan within multicellular animals. She works at marine labs around the world on tunicates and hemichordates and uses a multidisciplinary approach to studying this question.
to think a lot about how learning environments are affected by gender
> the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University.
Graduate Students > She has mentored several female, Hispanic and Native American

such environments. In her opinion, an "Uncommon Leader" brings about a

Addis, Liz
I am interested in how birds coordinate their breeding with the environment. How can a bird tell when environmental conditions are favorable enough to raise young? Cues such as day length, temperature, precipitation, and the amount of vegetative growth help a bird determine whether conditions are propitious for breeding. Birds use hormones to regulate their physiology and behavior in response to the environment. I study how birds use these hormones to stimulate breeding in coordination with environmental conditions. A transformation in biology occurs with a new discovery or application of a discovery that has significant impact upon the scientific and non-scientific world. An uncommon leader is a biologist that has made a transformation and has personally faced some sort challenge to become what that person is.

transformation in science when his or her unique experience leads,

Boyd, Ellen
Ellen is becoming an "Uncommon Leader" herself. She finished her PhD dissertation this year, just before the birth of her first child, a son.
ctly or indirectly, to an . This
Brown, Federico

My broader interests lie in exploring the mechanisms that animals utilize for reproduction and maintenance of a germline. I am currently studying how solitary and colonial ascidians with different reproductive strategies determine their germ cells. I am studying the expression of specialized genes found in germ cells of most animals, such as vasa, to identify the potentiality of germline stem cells in the adult colonies that can reproduce asexually, in contrast to solitary forms that only reproduce sexually. For me, a transformation in biology represents a revolutionary and novel idea that must be accompanied by a series of experimental evidence together with the theoretical background required to understand it. It is an idea that is often challenged, but cannot be overthrown. Scientists of poor countries who have transformed biology in spite of the socio-economical differences make an exceptional impression to me and I often wonder whether these differences can actually lead to more creative and novel approaches for science.

> this critical time in history, the future of humanity depends upon

ntribution may come in the form of a novel scientific theory, a change
Donaldson, Matina

Matina Donaldson is a graduate student in the Department of Biology who studies the evolution of communication using mathematical models. She was one of two women in her undergraduate mathematics program; in six years of computer programming at four different companies, she worked with only one other female programmer. These experiences have led her to think a lot about how learning environments are affected by gender balance, and how men and women react differently to social pressures in such environments. In her opinion, an "Uncommon Leader" brings about a transformation in science when his or her unique experience leads, directly or indirectly, to an important contribution to science. This contribution may come in the form of a novel scientific theory, a change in the process of science itself, or by enabling others with diverse backgrounds to take part in the scientific community.

in the process of science itself, or by enabling others with diverse
Himes, Christopher
I am a graduate student in the Department of Biology. I conduct research and outreach through the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. My research interests include biogeography, population genetics, and conservation. I work with small mammals inhabiting the temperate forests of North and South America. I believe an Uncommon Leader can be defined in many ways. For instance, perhaps an Uncommon Leader is an individual that has made a significant contribution to the scientific field and as a minority illustrates the importance of diversity. In this way the individual may serve as inspiration for subsequent generations of scientist. More broadly speaking I also believe that an Uncommon Leader can be anyone or an organization that seeks to promote diversity. Working in the sciences where in some corners stereotypes continued to persist about the abilities of women and minorities, I feel it is of great importance to be reminded of the contributions, past and present, of these Uncommon Leaders.
backgrounds to take part in the scienti community.
O'Brien, Sara
I study the neuroendocrine mechanisms influencing the timing of reproduction in birds. Presently, my work takes place in the Arctic Circle where I study white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophyrs). I am characterizing the effects of GnIH (gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone) and KiSS (kisspeptin) on the reproductive axis and how the environment may influence the release of these peptides differently throughout various life-history stages.In my opinion, a transformation in biology, may be something that opens new doors to how we study biology, be it a break-through in understanding a particular function of an organism or ecosystem; or a new technique that allows us to study biological processes in a new/more efficient way. A transformation in biology could also be a change for the better in the way academia/society approaches science, scientific models or its support of young biologists, minorities and people with special needs.n

Oyarzun, Fernanda

I am a Chilean graduate student at the Department of Biology, who studies variation in reproductive strategies in marine invertebrates. Because I have had the experience of being a women scientist in Latin America, and I have had the opportunity to pursue my studies in the United States thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship, I have become increasingly interested in inequality issues, cultural differences and barriers that persons like me and other minorities confront when they do research in the biological sciences. This seminar has been a great opportunity to learn about the life of great scientists who come from uncommon backgrounds and who have confronted and overcome barriers during their careers. I think that their work is transformative because they have changed the way we look at science, they have and are inspiring students and researchers like the people from this class, and they have shown that diversity benefits not only a part but the whole scientific community.

Pince, Christina
I am a graduate student in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. My research interests center on the evolution and genetics of floral form diversity and I am currently working on identifying genes important to the divergence of two species of monkey flower (Mimulus). One main purpose for doing the research we do as biologists is to increase the body of human knowledge. The link of knowledge between scientists and the public is a vital connection. Thus, I believe the greatest transformations in biology strengthen that link by changing the way scientists think about their own field while also affecting the public’s view of science. Uncommon leaders in science, like those profiled here, have helped drive such transformations and their contributions truly deserve recognition and praise. er female programmer.

Rowan, Beth
I am interested in studying the structure, replication, repair, and fate of organellar DNA during development. Presently, my chief research plans mainly concern the destruction of chloroplast DNA as leaves mature in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Our Uncommon Leaders have permanently influenced Biology through innovative research in their fields despite the obstacles they have encountered, and have transformed the role of science in society. Historically, many of their contributions have been overlooked due to their non-traditional backgrounds. Through my participation in this seminar course, I feel I have become acquainted with these inspiring individuals. I am delighted this opportunity will be available to everyone through the creation of this website.

Rychel, Amanda
I am a graduate student in the department of biology where I study the evolution and development of deuterostome body plans. More specifically I am interested in understanding the evolutionary origin(s) of cartilage in deuterostomes. I have been addressing this question by looking at the genetic and morphological components of cartilage in hemichordate worms and the invertebrate chordate, the lancelet. I consider transformations in biology to take on many forms, such as a major discovery that helps us to better understand basic biological phenomena, a pioneering of new biological techniques, or by making biology more accessible to diverse people.

Vaughn, Dawn

I am a PhD student in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington (UW). At the UW, and at the UW's marine station, Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL), I study the processes by which organisms adapt to their environment. One of my current research goals is to understand how the biotic environment, specifically how interactions between planktonic predator and prey, contribute to the behavior, development and morphology of marine invertebrate larvae. For me, an uncommon leader is an individual whose contributions to their chosen discipline are not only required, but also inspired. This inspiration takes many forms from successfully facing socio-political, cultural, and physical barriers to providing exceptional teaching and mentoring. It has been a privilege to participate in this seminar. Like our chosen leaders, my fellow participants represent individuals from a variety of backgrounds, and at various steps along our chosen career paths. Nevertheless, we all share a love of the biological sciences and how our uncommon leaders have and continue to inspire us.
h environments. In

Virta, Valerie
I am a PhD student in the Biology Department of the University of Washington. I study comparative embryology in teleost fish, focusing on the cytomechanics within the endodermal yolk cell in zebrafish embryos. The dynamics of the yolk cell are a model for evolutionary transition of a morphogenetic domain - a group of cells or cell nuclei that transiently engage in a common morphogenetic cell behavior. I am examining whether yolk morphogenetic domains are modules for phenotypic change during evolution. To do this, I am studying gene networks that regulate the mechanics of cell behavior and movements of the yolk. A transformation in biology happens when people form new ideas and paradigms by synthesizing data from a multitude of experiments, making original contributions to the field. An Uncommon Leader influences everyone with a different perspective from the norm, and inspires others to nurture seeds of change as they grow into novel lines of research.