April 2002
Patenting Human Genes

Putting it All Together

Measuring Cosmic X-ray Fireworks

Understanding Gene Functions Through Mutation

New Fellowships Integrate Teaching and Research

Pursuing Answers to Big Questions

Commentary: The Mentoring Mindset

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Bryn Mawr College
A quarterly newsletter on research, teaching, management, policy making and leadership in Science and Technology

New Fellowships Integrate Teaching and Research
By Barbara Spector

While pursuing her Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Cornell University in 2000-01, Samantha Glazier looked forward to an academic career. But she found few mechanisms to help new faculty acquire crucial skills like obtaining research funding, developing course material, and balancing research and teaching responsibilities with committee service.

At the same time, Xenia Morin, who was raising two daughters, was ready to return to work. Morin had earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Cornell in 1992. She’d held postdoctoral appointments at Germany’s European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and then took a hiatus to spend time with Haley, 5, and Hannah, 3. "I liked teaching and I liked research, and I always imagined myself doing both," she says.

Tomomi Kinukawa, who had earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tokyo and her doctorate in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin, aimed to build a bridge between the humanities and the sciences.

Keck and Mellon Fellowships

New postdoctoral fellowships at Bryn Mawr College are helping all three women to advance in their careers. Glazier and Morin hold the College’s first Keck Postdoctoral Research/Teaching Fellowships in the Sciences and Mathematics; Kinukawa is the first Mellon Fellow in the History of Science. Morin and Kinukawa came to Bryn Mawr in fall 2001. Glazier arrived at the College for the spring 2002 semester, after she completed her doctoral work.

Alfonso Albano, Marion Reilly Professor of Physics and a director of the Keck program, says the Keck fellowships represent an opportunity for Bryn Mawr "to be of service to the academic community." The program builds on the College’s strengths, he notes. "Research universities train research scientists, while liberal arts colleges put equal emphasis on teaching and research," Albano says. "We have many examples of faculty members at Bryn Mawr who do really well at both." The first five years of the program are being supported by a $750,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles; after that, the College will provide continuing support. Two additional Keck fellows will be appointed in fall 2002. Future appointments are expected for fall 2004.

Both the Keck and Mellon fellowships are aligned with the College’s Center for Science in Society, which focuses on pedagogical issues and interactions between the scientific community and the public at large. The fellows participate in the Center’s programs and discussions. During the fall semester, Morin presented a discussion on the role of universities in the face of increased demand for industrial collaboration; Kinukawa gave a talk on multiculturalism in science.

Ribosomal Protein Interactions

Xenia Morin

Morin’s research — conducted in the laboratory of Susan White, associate professor and chair of chemistry — investigates how the ribosomal protein L30 interacts with RNA. In the initial phase of her project, she’s establishing a fluorescent assay that will enable her to observe structural changes during binding.

On the teaching side, Morin has been assisting Karen Greif, professor of biology, with a course on biology and public policy. In the first year of her Keck fellowship, Morin leads discussions and helps students prepare position papers; she will have full teaching responsibilities in fall 2002.

While at Cornell, Morin perceived an emphasis on graduate students’ research at the expense of teaching. "That shortchanged the undergraduates, but it also shortchanged our graduate careers," she says. In 1989, she founded Cornell’s Teaching Assistant Development Program to address educational issues. The program continues to this day; last February, it enrolled its 2,000th graduate student.

At Bryn Mawr, Morin says, she appreciates the opportunity to observe departmental logistics such as the division of teaching responsibilities. She’s enjoyed interacting in small classes with bright students who eagerly participate in discussions. "I hope that I can be a role model for women who wonder if you can be both a mother and a scientist," she says.

Cross-Disciplinarian

Samantha Glazier

As a Keck Fellow at Bryn Mawr, Glazier is doing research in the lab of Professor of Chemistry Sharon Burgmayer. At Cornell, Glazier studied the photophysical properties of dendrimers, a collaboration between physics and two chemistry groups. She is looking forward to investigating a field of chemistry that’s new to her — bioinorganic chemistry — and to developing new cross-disciplinary courses. "I’m attracted to that approach to research," she says.

Glazier is also team-teaching an introductory chemistry course with Burgmayer. "Having a teaching partner has allowed Sharon to explore some new techniques that she hadn’t had the time to try before," Glazier says. Next summer, she plans to supervise undergraduates in Burgmayer’s lab, but for now, she says, "I’m learning from them about the molecules made in this lab."

While studying at Cornell, Glazier participated in a science outreach program at the Lansing Residential Center for Girls, which rehabilitates young women between the ages of 13 and 17 who have committed nonviolent offesnses. With the center’s science teacher, she designed and coordinated a summer science series that included hands-on projects like making polymers and dating volcanoes using core samples. "I had been really focused on my studies," she says. "I wanted to get involved in the outside world and do something that wasn’t just for myself."

Opening New Worlds

Tomomi Kinukawa

Kinukawa first studied in the United States as an undergraduate in 1987-88, when she took a year abroad at Goshen College, Ind. The experience inspired her to apply to a graduate school in the United States. "I wanted to continue opening up some new worlds here," she says.

Kinukawa’s research interest lies in how the introduction of Western medicine influenced changes in the experience of health and disease in various groups of women, their ideas of womanhood and their relations to the state during the Japanese Empire. The Mellon Fellowship in the History of Science funded her trip to Japan to conduct research last winter.

"As historians of science we attempt to obtain a deeper understanding of science by putting it into larger social and cultural contexts and offer insights to determine its proper role in our society," Kinukawa says.

Kinukawa, who has been teaching a course in the history of women in science, is impressed by Bryn Mawr students. "They really enjoy reading the course materials," she says. "They read them not just to complete the assignment, but for the sheer joy of knowing. And I’m learning a lot from them."

About the Author

Barbara Spector writes on science and technology as well as business topics. She is the executive editor of Family Business magazine and former editor of The Scientist.

 
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