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2018 Election Ballot

Deadline for Receipt of Ballot: 11:59 pm US EDT, Friday, November 9, 2018


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* Voter code provided in initial ballot email sent from to the email address associated with your GSA Membership.


Biographical Sketches of Nominees


VICE-PRESIDENT (vote for one)

Secretary (vote for one in each section)

Director (vote for one in each section)


VICE-PRESIDENT (vote for one)


photo of Hugo BellenHugo Bellen
Professor, Molecular and Human Genetics, Neuroscience, and Developmental Biology, and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Baylor College of Medicine


Candidacy Statement: I am excited to have the opportunity to serve as the vice-president of the GSA. I have had a passion for genetics since my second year of vet school and this passion led me to embark on a PhD in Genetics at UC Davis. I joined a fruit fly lab for my thesis project as I was attracted to the simple logic of their genetics, the speed of breeding, the elegant genetic manipulations, and the ability to perform genetic screens, all while being able to query almost any complex biological question using genetic approaches. Genetics is more relevant than ever before. I have witnessed the growth of our field and its continuous expansion in almost all disciplines of biology.


I have been a Drosophila geneticist for 35 years and the fellows in my lab at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) have developed numerous new genetic tools to study all aspects of biology. We have engineered tens of thousands of fly stocks to answer biological questions with more precision, speed, and depth than ever before. Genetics is the heart and soul of my research, recently expanding to the study of genes that cause rare human disease. I strongly believe that genetic model organisms will continue to contribute vast amounts of knowledge to our understanding of the human, animal and plant world. Indeed, genetic model organisms are at the root of all but one Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in the last 30 years, yet I believe we have not sufficiently capitalized on our achievements to garner support at the political level, in Congress or at the NIH/NSF. In addition, it’s imperative that we advocate for education related to the use and power of genetic model organisms by increasing both the accessibility and quality of educational resources. The GSA has a responsibility to develop better support for research and teaching in the genetics community.


Education: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Dept. of Cell Biology, Advisor: Dr. W.J. Gehring; Ph.D. in Genetics, University of California Davis; Doctor in Veterinary Medicine, Magna Cum Laude, University of Ghent (R.U.G.); Preveterinary Medicine, Magna Cum Laude, University of Antwerp (R.U.C.A.); Master of Business Engineering, Solvay School of Business, University of Brussels (V.U.B.).


Career Summary: Hugo Bellen, DVM, PhD, is a Professor in the Departments of Molecular and Human Genetics and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in Houston, Texas. Dr. Bellen started his independent career as an HHMI Investigator at BCM in 1989. Dr. Bellen has published over 250 publications.


Honors and Awards: Presidential Award for Excellence, for Leadership in Research and Research Mentoring, BCM (May 2018); Stanley N. Cohen Lecture, Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania (May 2018); Seymour Benzer Keynote Speaker, Neurobiology of Drosophila Meeting, Cold Spring Harbor (October 2017); Edward J. Masoro Distinguished Lecture, UT Health Science Center, San Antonio (May 2016); Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award, BCM (May 2016); Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at the University of Melbourne, Australia (May 2015); George W. Beadle Award of the Genetics Society of America (March 2014); Gill Distinguished Neuroscience Investigator Award, Indiana University, Bloomington (October 2012); Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of California, Davis (October 2011); Distinguished Service Professor, BCM (March 2010); March of Dimes Chair in Developmental Biology, BCM (May 2000); Charles Darwin Chair in Genetics, BCM (October 1999); Dean’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Education, BCM (March 1999); Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award, BCM (October 1995); N.A.T.O. Fellowship (July 1986 and July 1987); Distinguished Scholarship, University of California, Davis (September 1985); Fulbright Award, Belgian--‐American Educational Foundation (July 1983); Upjohn Award, Best Thesis in Veterinary Medicine, Belgium (July 1983)


Professional Service Activities: Dr. Bellen served as the Director of the BCM Graduate Program in Developmental Biology for more than 20 years. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of FlyBase and the NHGRI Alliance of Genome Resources, and he has been the Chair of the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center Advisory Board since 1996. He is a member of the Gill Center External Advisory Board at Indiana University and has served in the Scientific Advisory Boards of several Institutes including the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Gottingen, Germany; the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) at the Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan; the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) at the University of Leuven, Belgium; the Biology Department at the KAIST, Daejeon, Korea. He is the P.I. of the Model Organisms Screening Center of the Undiagnosed Diseases Network supported by the NIH (2015 2022).


Major Research Interests: Dr. Bellen studies human disease genes and has utilized the fly to validate dozens of novel genes in which mutations cause neurological disease in humans. In collaboration with human geneticists, he has elucidated possible pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases using the fly as a model organism. When the National Institutes of Health created the Undiagnosed Diseases Network focused on whole exome and genome sequencing of patients with mysterious and possibly genetic conditions, Dr. Bellen was chosen to lead the Model Organisms Screening Center (MOSC) to assess the impact of novel human variants. In the past few years alone the MOSC has used the fly to validate discoveries of more than 10 human genes underlying unknown diseases. Dr. Bellen has also made some probing discoveries related to the mechanisms that may cause Friedreich ataxia, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, and others. In doing so, he is cementing the status of Drosophila as a model system for human disease gene validation, and unraveling possible pathogenic mechanisms. Dr. Bellen has pioneered the development of many novel technologies that are currently used by the majority of fly labs across the world. As the head of the Drosophila Gene Disruption Project, his laboratory has developed numerous sophisticated genetic tools and generated tens of thousands of mutants fly lines that have transformed Drosophila biology. Finally, his group has made major contributions over the past 30 years to our understanding of nervous system development, synaptic transmission, and mechanisms of neurodegeneration.





photo of Denise MontellDenise Montell
Robert and Patricia Duggan Professor, Distinguished Professor, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara


Candidacy Statement: The science of genetics is more exciting today than ever. For more than one hundred years, understanding genetics has been demystifying some of life’s deepest secrets - from the transformation of a fly egg into a larva in a matter of hours, to animal evolution over eons. I welcome the opportunity to work with the GSA to navigate the current period of exceptional opportunity. The ability to apply new genetics approaches to an ever-increasing array of organisms presents a great opportunity for the GSA to grow both in size and impact. We will need to act with vision and foresight to foster the dynamic expansion of genetics to new organisms, while ensuring that the classic model organism and human genetics communities continue to expand and thrive. In the coming years, genetics will have an ever-larger impact on our society, and the educational mission of the GSA will be more critical than ever. For example, as a society, we face questions as to how and whether to use gene editing in humans. The public and policy-makers need to understand the science, and scientists need to appreciate the social and political issues so that together we can make the highest quality decisions. Gene editing is a powerful tool, and powerful tools have the potential for both good and harm. We must ensure that, as geneticists, we model the very best that science has to offer. Within our education mission we should reach out to younger and more diverse students. My first experience with genetics was my high school science fair project - measuring the spontaneous mutational frequency of thermophilic bacteria. Hands-on science from an early age is key to engaging students from diverse backgrounds, nurturing kids’ natural curiosity, and providing exposure to research as a career. All kids have seen doctors, police, and firefighters, but how many have never seen the inside of a lab or have had the opportunity to grasp scientific research as a potential career? I’ve engaged in outreach to elementary, middle, and high school students for decades and on both coasts. I welcome the opportunity to work with the GSA to inspire our members to provide opportunities for diverse young people to experience the thrill of discovery in genetics. This will make our community stronger and our electorate wiser. I also look forward to advancing the GSA’s mission of science communication. Science publishing is critical to the enterprise and is evolving rapidly. Society journals like GENETICS represent our community’s highest values. In addition to communicating with each other, GSA should help us share our enthusiasm and our stories with the broader public. As biologists, we could do more to emulate the astrophysicists who write compelling popular science books, create popular TV shows, to attract and hold the public’s interest. Sean Carroll and Siddhartha Mukherjee are great inspirations in this regard. Advocating effectively for increased funding for biomedical research in general - and genetics research in particular - is another critical component of the GSA mission. Last year, I invited my Congressman to visit several laboratories at UCSB. It was a wonderful and rewarding experience that converted a sympathetic Congressman into a true advocate for research. I would encourage each of you to do the same. One Congressperson at a time, we can change the world.


Education: Ph.D., Stanford University, Neurosciences; Postdoc, Carnegie Institution, Developmental Genetics


Career Summary: Duggan Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (2013-present); Founding Director, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Center for Cell Dynamics (2006-2013); Department of Biological Chemistry, Director, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry (1999-2013); Department of Biological Chemistry, Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2002-2013); Department of Biological Chemistry, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1998-2002); Department of Embryology, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1992-1998); Staff Associate, Carnegie Institution (1990-1992)


Honors and Awards: Elected Fellow of AAAS (2017); WM Keck Foundation Award (2013 – 2016); NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2014 – 2019); American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award (2001-2004); American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Award (1994-1997); Lucille P. Markey Scholar Award (1991-1997); American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship (1988-1991); National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship (1983-1986); Biology Department Honors, UCSD (1983)


Professional Service Activities: Major Lectures: Danny Thomas Lecture, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (2017); Robert E. Davies Honorary Lecture, University of Pennsylvania (2014); NYU Skirball Institute Symposium “The Social Life of Cells” (2014); University of Cincinnati, William Larsen Lecture (2009); Northwestern University H Foundation Symposium Lecture (2009); Plenary Lecture, ComBio, Sydney Australia (2008); Plenary Lecture, American Society for Cell Biology Meeting (2006, 2016); NYU School of Medicine Honors Lecture (2004); Plenary Lecture, Society for Developmental Biology Meeting (2003, 2010, 2018); Keynote Lecture, University of Texas at Austin Retreat (2001); Plenary Lectures, National Drosophila Conference (1992, 2002, 2012)


Advisory Activities: Gordon Research Conferences Advisory Board (2017- present); University of California, Cancer Research Coordinating Committee (2016-2020); Carnegie Institute of Washington, Embryology Department External Review Committee (2016); Chair, NIGMS Junior Investigator MIRA inaugural grant review panel (2016); NIGMS Senior Investigator MIRA inaugural grant review panel (2015); American Society for Cell Biology, Advisory Council (2015-2018); UCSB Neuroscience Research Institute Advisory Committee Chair (2014 - present); UNC DB Training Program External Advisory Committee (2010-present); American Cancer Society, Council of Scientific Advisors (2010-2014); NIGMS Council (2010-2014); NIH, CB IRG web review (2009); NIH, K99/R00 review, ad hoc (2009); NIH, CB-J(02) study section, ad hoc (2009); Howard Hughes Medical Institutes Scientific Advisory Panel (2009); NIH, ZRG1 CB N03M Special Emphasis Panel (2008); NIGMS Council, ad hoc (2007); NIH, Infectious Diseases & Microbiology IRG, ad hoc (2006); American Cancer Society, Developmental and Differentiation, chair (2006); American Cancer Society, Developmental and Differentiation, vice chair (2005); American Cancer Society, Developmental and Differentiation, member (2003-2006); NSF, Developmental Mechanisms, ad hoc (2000); American Cancer Society, Developmental and Differentiation ad hoc (2002); NIH CDF6 Study Section (1998-2002)


University Committees: Chair, Dept. of Biological Chemistry 100th Anniversary Brochure Committee (2008); Chair, Search Committee for Assistant Professor of Cell Dynamics Center (2007); Chair, Search Committee for Assistant Professor of Cell Dynamics Center (2006); Co-chair, Search Committee for Director of Oncology and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (2006-2008); Co-chair, 100 Women Professors Celebration (2003); Professorial Promotions Committee (2002); Chair, Search Committee for Assistant Professor, Biological Chemistry (2002); Search Committee for the Director of the Molecular Biology & Genetics Dept. (2001); Search Committee for the Director of the Institute of Genetic Medicine (2000); M.A./Ph.D. Committee (1999 – present); Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry Admissions (1999 – present); BCMB Rotations (1995-2000); BCMB Graduate Program Admissions (1992-1994); Medical School Council (1993-1995)


Major research interests: Our mission: to uncover the fundamental mechanisms that control how cells build and maintain normal adult tissues so we can harness these mechanisms for the benefit of human health.





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Secretary (vote for one in each section)


photo of Oliver HobertOliver Hobert
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Candidacy Statement: Genetics is undergoing a technology-driven revolution right now, with approaches ranging from single cell genomics to CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering changing the way we can interrogate the genome. Classic model systems profit greatly from these approaches, but perhaps even more importantly, many new, interesting species can now be subjected to genetic analysis. We as a society should take an active role in helping new model system communities to establish themselves (e.g. via providing funding for meetings). With a broadening of the base of genetic analysis, it will be more important than ever to support the GSA in providing resources for the genetics community: From publication venues, to meeting organization, to science advocacy for policy makers and funders. I have co-organized a number of meeting (including a GSA-sponsored one) and I have served as an editor for GENETICS since 2008, first as Associate Editor, then Senior Editor and Reviews Editor. I have also served for two terms on the board of the Society for Developmental Biology and I am excited about the possibility to contribute my experience to serve the GSA in the role of secretary.


Education: PhD, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry & University Bayreuth


Career Summary: Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2005-present), Professor at Columbia University, Department of Biological Sciences (2015-present), Assistant Professor (1999-2005), Associate Professor (2005-2009), Full Professor (2009-2015) at Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Postdoctoral fellow (Harvard Medical School, advisor: Gary Ruvkun; 1996-1999)


Honors and Awards: Jacob Javits Award in the Neurosciences (2015), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014), Harland Winfield Mossman Award in Developmental Biology (2008), Rita Allen Foundation Scholar Junior Faculty Award (2001), Klingenstein Fellow (2000), Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (2000), Searle Scholar Junior Faculty Award (2000), Basil O’Connor Scholar Award (2000), Human Frontiers in Science 10th Anniversary Award (1999), Junior Investigator Award from the German Academy of Science “Leopoldina” (1997), Human Frontiers in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship (1996)


Professional Service Activities: Editor: Reviewing Editor, eLife (2012-present), Associate then Senior Editor, GENETICS (2008-present), Editor, WormMethods (2009-2017), Associate Editor, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs): Developmental Biology (2012-present), Guest Editor Current Opinions in Neurobiology "Neuronal Identity” (2018), Current Opinions in Neurobiology "Development” (2009), Current Topics in Dev. Biol. "Development of Neural Circuitry (2009), Journal of Neurobiology "Genes and Behavior" (2002) Editorial Board: Current Biology (2009-present), Development (2003-present), Developmental Biology (2007-present), Neural Development (2006-present), Mechanisms of Development (2006-present), Developmental Dynamics (2009-2015) Other board memberships: Board member of Society for Developmental Biology (2008-2014), Scientific Advisory Board WormBase (2011-present), WormBoard member (2016-present)Meeting (Co-)Organization: EMBO meeting “Evolution of Cell Types” (2019), NYU Abu Dhabi Parasitic Nematode Workshop (2018), Fondation des Treilles meeting “Plasticity of cellular identity” (2016), SDB Satellite Symposium “Making and breaking the left-right axis: Laterality in development and disease” (2013), 18th International C. elegans meeting, Los Angeles (2011),  Cell Press Conference "Epigenetics" (2011), Mini-Symposium “RNA and Development” at Annual Meeting of American Society for Cell Biology (2006). Grant Review Panels: NIH study section Neurogenesis and Cell Fate (2008-2012; chair 2010-2012; ad hoc 2001-2008), NIH study section Synapses, cytoskeleton, trafficking (2017-2023), Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship review panel (2015-present), Ad hoc review panels for Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Simons Foundation, National Science Foundation (NSF), Human Frontiers in Science Program, Medical Research Council, UK, French Ministry of Research and Education, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK, European Science Foundation, United States/Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) , Israeli Science Foundation (ISF), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), UK Teaching: Organizer & Lecturer Advanced Undergraduate course “Neurogenetics”, Guest Lecturer in Graduate courses “Developmental Neurobiology” and “Principles of Developmental Biology”, Guest lecturer EMBO Course "Developmental Neurobiology", Guest lecturer in Cold Spring Harbor Course "C. elegans. Program director NIH T32 Training Grant “Stem Cells and Cell Lineage Specification” Trainees: 25 past Graduate Students (5 currently Faculty Members), 19 past Postdoctoral Fellows (12 currently Faculty Members)


Major Research Interests: My lab’s main interest is focused on understanding the genetic programs that generate the astounding diversity of cell types in a nervous system. We study this problem using C. elegans as a model system and have confirmed some of our results in mice as well. We are also interested in the genetics of neuronal circuit formation during development and how nervous system development differs between the two sexes of the worm. We have also invested efforts in generating tools and technology that enable and facilitate genetic analysis.




photo of Erika MatunisErika Matunis
Professor, Department of Cell Biology, and Institute for Cellular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD


Candidacy Statement: It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve the GSA. I joined this society in 1994 as a new postdoc in the DiNardo lab at the Rockefeller University, where our goal was to develop the Drosophila testis as a model for stem cell biology. This would have been impossible without the welcoming exchange of ideas and reagents that epitomizes the Annual Drosophila Research Conference. Strong support for model organisms, advocated prominently by the GSA, remains an important longstanding goal that I share. Promoting scientific literacy by interacting with the public is more important now than ever before, but many researchers are unprepared to effectively engage with non-scientists. Strengthening the GSA’s ability to support each member’s ability to develop advocacy skills is a goal I strongly support. I will also continue to promote GSA’s highly successful TAGC meetings, which promote the integration of multiple model systems. Finally, I bring an enthusiasm for mentorship to the GSA leadership. As a recent GSA director, it was a privilege to work with our early career scientists in their effort to generate professional development resources informing the many exciting and diverse careers open to geneticists. I will continue to enthusiastically promote the inclusion of all GSA members, particularly those at early stages of their training, since they represent the future of this evolving society.


Education: BS in Biology, Pacific Lutheran University (1986); PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology (with Gideon Dreyfuss), Northwestern University (1992).


Career summary: Postdoctoral training: Rockefeller University (with Stephen DiNardo) (1993–98); Faculty appointments: Staff Associate, Carnegie Institution (1998–2002), Assistant Professor (2002–08), Associate Professor (2008–13), Professor (2013–present), Department of Cell Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


Honors and Awards: Creso award (1984), Arete Society (1985), Revson Fellowship (1993), National Research Service Award (1994), ASCB Symposium Lecturer (2003), WALS Lecture, Director’s series, National Institutes of Health (2013), Sadler Lecture, National Institutes of Health (2015), MGH Shoolman Visiting Professor, Reproductive Endocrinology, Harvard, Cambridge, MA (2016), Plenary Speaker, Taiwanese Society of Dev. Biology Annual Meeting, Tainan, Taiwan (2017), Bruce Stewart Memorial Lecture, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, San Antonio (2017), Keynote speaker, Till and McCulloch meeting, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada (2017).


Professional Service Activities: GSA related: Organizer, 53rd Annual Drosophila Research Conference (2004). Session Chair, 44th and 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conferences. GSA board of Directors, (2016-2018). Editorial boards: Stem Cell Reviews (2004–08), Cell Stem Cell (2008 present), Spermatogenesis (2009–present). Advisory boards: Maryland Science Center’s Cellular Universe. Scientific Advisory Board, Morgridge Institute, Madison WI (2016- present). Undergraduate Research Advisory Board, Johns Hopkins University (2017-present). Abstract programming committees: International Society for Stem Cell Research (2010–present), ASCB (2005, 2009, 2015). Co-organizer, Cold Spring Harbor Germ Cells Meeting (2012), Ad hoc reviewer for The Wellcome Trust, The Israel Science Foundation and the NIH (Cellular, Molecular and Integrative Reproduction (CMIR), Reproductive Biology (REB) and Development-1 (Dev1) Study Sections). Standing Member (CMIR) 2016 – present. Outreach: Nifty Fifty Speaker, USA Science & Engineering Festival (2015–present).


Major Research Interests: My lab is interested in understanding how stem cells cooperate with their natural microenvironments, or niches, to sustain adult tissue regeneration. We mainly use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and have focused on the testis, where sperm-producing germ line stem cells, and neighboring somatic stem cells cohabit a well-defined niche. The unparalleled genetic tools for mosaic analysis and lineage tracing, especially when combined with advances in live imaging, biosensors and single-cell RNA-sequencing, have been instrumental in developing this as a premier model stem cell system that provides a blueprint for adult stem cell niche biology in general.





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DIRECTOR (vote for one in each section)


photo of Pamela GreerPamela Geyer
Professor of Biochemistry, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Iowa


Candidacy Statement: I am excited to be nominated for a position on the Board of Directors of the GSA. These are exciting times for geneticists as new tools, such CRISPR technology and whole genome sequencing, have sparked a rapid pace of discoveries and deepened our knowledge of genetic systems, bringing us ever closer to actualizing goals embodied in personalize medicine. To sustain a vibrant and thriving community of genetics, we must continue to ensure broad and inclusive education of trainees and the public, so that these scientific advances fulfill their promise. I have a long record of commitment to training and building a diverse community of geneticists, serving both as a research mentor and a leader of the MD-PhD graduate training program for over 15 years at my institution. I am a strong believer in the power of model organisms and their utility in providing platforms for scientific advances, and have worked to strengthen these communities, through service on the Drosophila Board of Directors and serving as a co-organizer of Drosophila Research Conferences in 2000 and 2018. I remain committed to improving scientific communication and have been engaged in scientific review process as an Associate Editor in Genetics since 2011. The GSA has been my guiding light throughout my career and I am enthusiastic about joining the Board to serve as an advocate who advances the mission of the GSA.


Education: PhD in Biochemistry, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.


Career Summary: Postdoctoral training: Johns Hopkins University (1983-1989). Faculty appointments: Visiting Assistant Professor of Biological Chemistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Catonsville, MD (1988-1989), Assistant to Full Professor with tenure, Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa (1989-present), Associate Director, Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Iowa (1997-1999), Director/ Co-Director, Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Iowa (1999-2006; 2010-present). Executive Committee of MD/PhD Programs (2003–2005).


Honors and Awards: Elected fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2015); Collegiate Teaching Award, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa (2014); Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award: Biological and Life Sciences, Graduate College, University of Iowa (2014); Award for Faculty Excellence, State of Iowa Regents (2008); Faculty Service Award, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa (2007); Basil O’Connor Starter Research Award (1991-1994); NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship (1986-1988); American Cancer Postdoctoral Fellowship (1984-1985); Presidential Fellowship, Ohio State University (1982-1983); Wilbur Waite Canaga Graduate Fellowship, Ohio State University (1978-1979); B.Sc. with Great Distinction, McGill University (1978)


Professional Service Activities: GSA related: Co-Chair, FASEB Chromatin and Transcription Meeting (1999); Co-Chair, 41st Annual Drosophila Research Conference (2000); Organizer, Mini-symposium at the 17th European Drosophila Research Conference (2001); Midwest Representative Drosophila Advisory Board, elected position (2006–2008); Treasurer, Drosophila Advisory Board, elected position (2008–2012); Editorial Board member, Nucleus (2009–present); Associate Editor, Genetics (2011–present); Invited editor, Genome Architecture and Expression, Current Opinion in Genetics and Development (2016); Vice-Chair, Epigenetics Gordon Research Conference (2015) and Co-Chair, Epigenetics Gordon Research Conference (2017); Co-Chair, 59th Annual Drosophila Research Conference (2018).


Grant Review: Member, NIH Biomedical Research and Research Training Review Subcommittee C (1997–2001); Member, HHMI Research Training Fellowship Review Panel (2005–2007); Member, NIH MGB R01 review panel (2012–2016); Chair, NIH MGB R01 review panel (2016–2017).


Major Research Interests: My laboratory’s research is directed at understanding mechanisms involved in genome organization and gene regulation during development. Two areas are currently being studied, mechanisms of chromatin insulator function and gene regulation, and understanding the role of nuclear lamina proteins in stem cell homeostasis, with an emphasis on studying contributions of the LEM domain protein family. We study these areas using Drosophila as a model genetic and developmental organism.




photo of Helen SalzHelen Salz
Professor, Case Western Reserve University


Candidacy Statement: As a life-long Drosophila geneticist, being a GSA member has been integral to my professional development. I joined the GSA as a graduate student, attend meetings hosted by the GSA, and publish extensively in GENETICS. I am an Associate Editor for G3, and in the past have served on a number of GSA-related committees. I welcome the opportunity to increase my service to the GSA as a Board Member. If elected, I will contribute to GSA’s efforts to attract and support the very best young scientists to the field of genetics, through conferences, student travel awards and professional development programs. I would also like to see the GSA entering into more conversations with journalists, policy makers and the general public through stronger media and advocacy activities. Dialogue offers a means to increase public understanding of how the scientific process works, the excitement and value of model organism genetics, and the social and ethical issues surrounding genetic discoveries. In sum, I am excited to work with the GSA to maintain and expand the diverse scientific community it serves, to support publications in GSA journals, and to promote research, education and public policy.


Education: PhD in Genetics, University of California, Davis


Career Summary: Postdoctoral training: Princeton University with Tom Cline and Paul Schedl (1983-1987). Faculty appointments: Assistant to Full Professor with Tenure, Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (1987-present)


Honors and Awards: Jessica Melton Perry Award for Distinguished Teaching in Disciplinary and Professional Writing (2014); HERS Bryn Mawr Summer Leadership Institute (2011); UCITE Mentors Fellows Program (2010); Genetics Faculty of the Year (2003, 2008); Mather Foundation Young Investigator Award (1989); American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship (1984-1986)


Professional Service Activities: GSA-related: Associate Editor G3 (2012-present); Session Chair, National Drosophila Research Conference (2018); Inaugural Chair, Finnerty Undergraduate Travel Award Selection Committee (2011-2015); Member, National Drosophila Board of Directors (2011-2014; 1991-1995); Member, DeLill Nasser Award Selection Committee (2010-2014); Member, GSA Nominating Committee (2010); Chair and Member, Sandler Award Selection Committee (2007, 2006, 2002, 1998); Organizer: RNA Processing workshop, National Drosophila Research Conference (2001, 1997, 1995).


Grant Review: NIH, Developmental Biology Subcommittee (2017); NSF, Member of Animal Developmental Mechanisms (2013, 2015); NIH, ZGM1 TWD-C (2013). NIH, Pathways to Independence, K99 (2007-2013); NIH, Fellowship Review for Endocrinology, Metabolism, Nutrition & Reproductive (2012); NSF, Genes & Genomes (2008); NIH, Genes, Genomics & Genetics (2006); NIH, Member of Comparative Medicine Review Committee (2003); America Cancer Society, Chair and Member of Development, Differentiation & Cancer Committee (1997-2001); American Cancer Society, Ohio Division, Member of Research Committee (1996); American Cancer Society, Member of Dev. Biology Advisory Board (1996); NSF, Member of Genetics Study Section (1996); American Cancer Society, Member of Advisory Cmt. for Personnel (1994); Jeffress Research Foundation, mail in reviewer (1993); NIH, Member of Research Ctrs. in Minority Inst. Panel (1992); NIH, Member of Bio. Models & Materials Resources (1991); NSF, mail in reviewer for various study sections, 1988-present.


Major Research Interests: Sex specification and maintenance. Germ cell development. RNA binding proteins & post-transcriptional gene regulation.





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DIRECTOR (vote for one in each section)


photo of Swathi ArurSwathi Arur
Associate Professor, Department of Genetics, Division of Basic Science Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Associate Professor, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Associate Professor, Division of Basic Science Research, Baylor College of Medicine

Candidacy Statement: Genetics Society of America was the first scientific society that I joined in 2003. As a post-doctoral fellow with Prof. Tim Schedl at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, I would look forward to the biannual International C. elegans meeting which is organized by GSA. This meeting allows for exchange of ideas, and discussions that often-seeded long term collaborations. It also very quickly made me part of a wonderful society of geneticists, knit by their love of an organism so simple yet so powerful. I have watched and supported the directions that GSA has moved into over the years, and I regularly review articles for GENETICS.


If elected, I would continue to support GSA initiatives such as The Allied Genetics Conference which brought together multiple model organisms in a single conference setting to harness the power of each and induce cross collaborations. I will advocate for building on the foundation of TAGC (first held in 2016 and TAGC scheduled for 2020) and encourage cross model organism collaborative enterprises, maybe setting up seed awards, for example. These seed awards would encourage testing of genetic and biological principles in close collaborations between diverse model systems.


Today, the field of genetics is more powerful than ever before, due to our power to edit genes in organisms so far thought to be genetically intractable. This heralds an exciting time for us with endless possibilities of expanding our knowledge, but also engenders fear in the public, with visions of Frankenstonian like scientists genetically altering organisms. Thus, I will support initiatives that foster increased public engagement and active engagement of students in community colleges and high school. It is important to convey what scientists seek and how these technologies may be the only hope for many patients. Thus, conveying the scientific intent will be key to the outreach initiatives, which will seek to effectively communicate the strengths of what can be achieved with genome editing technologies, in particular for medical genetics.


Education: Ph.D from All India Institute for Medical Sciences, India with Prof. M. K. Bhan


Career Summary: Post-doctoral training with Prof. Tim Schedl on C. elegans developmental genetics (2003-2010); Assistant Professor (Department of Genetics, MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2010-2016); Associate Professor (Department of Genetics, MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2016-present); Co-Director Graduate Program in Genes and Development (University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 2015-2017); Member, Program in Developmental Biology, Baylor College of Medicine.


Honors and Awards: Presidents Scholar Award (MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2016-2019); Research Scholar (American Cancer Society, 2014-2018); Distinguished Research Faculty Mentor Award, MD Anderson Cancer Center (2017); Anna Fuller Foundation Scholar (2016-2018), Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Fellow (2017-2019).


Professional Service Activities: Chair, Southwest Society of Developmental Biology Meeting, Houston, 2018; Journal reviewer (GENETICS, Development, Developmental Biology, Developmental Cell, Science, eLife, Science Signaling, Plos Genetics); Ad Hoc Study section member NIH CMIR (June 2017), Ad Hoc Study section member American Cancer Society, DDC (June 2017); Ad Hoc Study section member Israel Science foundation (July 2017), Standing Study Section member NIH CSR CMIR (2018-2022)


Major Research Interests: Role of environmental cues and maternal nutrition in regulating oogenesis and oocyte to embryo transition in C. elegans.




photo of David FayDavid Fay
Professor, Molecular Biology, University of Wyoming


Candidacy Statement: Simply put, I love genetics. As an undergraduate chemistry major who never studied genetics in the classroom (though of course I teach it now), I can’t claim it’s what got me into science. But it’s definitely what made me stay. The puzzle, the power, the potential, and even the frustrating unpredictability—all this served to hook me. Though I’ve worked with worms for about 22 years, I studied yeast as a Ph.D. student, where I learned just how useful genetics can be when I got thoroughly scooped by a capable geneticist with a good screen.


My training and career have exposed me to a wide range of academic settings including Tufts, Yale, Hopkins, UC Boulder, and the University of Wyoming. In addition, one of my current responsibilities as a Director of an NIH-funded program-project grant involves interactions with community college faculty and students throughout the state of Wyoming. As such, I’ve experienced pretty much the full gamut and can appreciate the unique challenges and rewards of teaching and research throughout the academic spectrum. I’ve served the GSA as an Associate and Senior Editor of the G3 journal, which has been both an honor and a great learning experience. By some miracle I’ve managed to run a productive and (mostly) continuously funded lab at Wyoming for 17 years and have served on numerous grant panels for the NIH and other agencies. I was also instrumental in creating the first multidisciplinary Ph.D. program in the biomedical sciences at Wyoming, a feat for which I was subsequently punished by being appointed its Director for about 10 years.


One of my scientific hobbies has been to write long instructional tomes for my field. The first was a guide to C. elegans genetics, which I wrote while still a postdoc in Boulder. This manifesto, originally entitled “Worm Breeding for Dummies”, was eventually formalized and incorporated into WormBook and now bears the less interesting (but non-copyright-infringing) heading, “Classical Genetic Methods”. More recently, I co-authored “A Biologist's Guide to Statistical Thinking and Analysis”, which was also published by WormBook. My theory was that if I could write about statistics in a way that I would find comprehensible, then it should be understandable by anyone, a postulate that seems to hold true for most things.


Regarding my nomination, it would be a privilege to serve on the GSA Board of Directors. I would work hard to contribute meaningfully and would hope to bring my own perspectives. The GSA already does so many things exceedingly well—overseeing its two journals; organizing meetings; mentoring students, postdocs, and faculty; engaging in public outreach and education. All of these activities interest me, including the possibility for new avenues of engagement. The importance of genetics to the scientific community, as well as society in general, should in theory be an easy sell. But the case still needs to be made, and the GSA is in the best position to carry that forward. I would be happy to contribute to this effort.


Education: Ph.D., Yale University, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry


Honors and Awards: Agriculture Extension Station Outstanding Researcher Award (2016); Albany County School District Outstanding Wisdom and Leadership Award (2015); University of Wyoming Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award (2012).


Professional Service Activities: G3: Genes/Genomes/Genetics, (Genetics Society of America, publisher). Senior Editor (2018–present); G3: Genes/Genomes/Genetics, (Genetics Society of America, publisher), Associate Editor (2011–2018); Worm (Landes Biosciences, publisher) Editorial Board (2011–2017); WormBook, Editor, Genetic Methods Section (2005–2011); GSA Reviewer Trainee Program Committee (2016–2017); American Cancer Society State Representative (2002–2006); National Institutes of Health, multiple review panels (2007–present); Director of the Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences Graduate Program (2005–2016); Director of Programmatic Research, Wyoming NIH/INBRE (2015–present).


Major Research Interests: Genetics has constituted the core of our studies and has been a major driving force in determining our research directions for the past 17 years. Complementing this we have incorporated cellular, developmental, molecular, biochemical, and various omics approaches. Our initial studies focused on functions of the C. elegans Retinoblastoma protein ortholog, but rapidly branched into a range of projects encompassing organogenesis, cell proliferation, germline development, and stress-response pathways. Over the past five years, two independent genetic-based projects serendipitously converged, leading to our present focus on intracellular trafficking. We are currently investigating the roles of several novel components and regulators of endocytosis, along with their impact on the extracellular matrix and development.


Link to complete publication list (David S. Fay):




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DIRECTOR (vote for one in each section)


photo of Arash BashirullahArash Bashirullah
Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Candidacy Statement: I care deeply about genetics and the community of geneticists. This is why I value the GSA and its mission, from publishing our flagship journals, to hosting our organism-specific conferences (and thereby fostering our thriving scientific communities), to supporting the development of our trainees. I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve on behalf of the GSA to continue its mission.


Times are tough right now for geneticists. Genetics, the simple organisms we use as our experimental workhorse, and science in general, are under political attack, largely stemming from politicians and how they represent what we do to the public. This attack is hurting our funding base and, as a result, our livelihoods and threatening the future of society along with it. Ironically, this is occurring at a time when genetics is experiencing an unprecedented boom in interest from society.


Take, for example, the explosive growth of direct-to-consumer genetic testing and the companies like Ancestry and 23andMe that provide these services. I want to use this budding societal curiosity to reframe public perception of genetics research. This task requires a focused strategy.


GSA has a real opportunity to develop strategies to communicate with the public and to advocate for our science and its funding; we all need to pair public communication approaches with marketing strategies to rebuild and repair our “brand” as geneticists and scientists. My involvement with GSA has convinced me that the Society is ready to take on this task. If I were a Board Member, I could help to guide these tasks through work with Committees and staff. In fact, I have been recently tasked by GSA President, Jeannie Lee, to Chair the Strategic Planning Working Group on “Public Engagement.”


I have also been serving the GSA community as an Associate Editor for G3 and also as an Advisor to the Early Career Scientist Communication & Outreach Subcommittee. Now I humbly seek your vote to continue promoting the mission of the GSA as a Board member. Thank you!


Education: BS, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, MB, Canada; PhD, Caltech, Pasadena, CA (USA)


Career Summary: Doctoral Training: Division of Biology, Caltech, and Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, with Howard D. Lipshitz. Postdoctoral Training: Department of Human Genetics, HHMI & University of Utah, with Carl S. Thummel. Faculty Appointments: Assistant Professor (2007-2014) & Associate Professor (2014-present), Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Honors and Awards: Kavli Fellow, The National Academy of Sciences; Teacher of the Year, The School of Pharmacy, UW-Madison; Undergraduate Mentor Award, UW-Madison, nominated; NIH National Research Service Award; Chemistry Faculty Award, University of Winnipeg; International Mathematical Olympiad, Venezuelan National Team.


Professional Service Activities: @ GSA: Associate Editor for G3 (developmental & behavioral genetics, and molecular and cellular genetics sections)(2016-present); Advisor, Early Career Scientist, Communication & Outreach Subcommittee (2017-present); Chair, Strategic Planning Working Group, “Communicating Discoveries” (2018-present).


@UW-Madison: Major service roles at the School level include the Academic Planning Council, the Executive Board, and the Equity, Diversity, & Climate Committee (chair). I have also served six years at the University Faculty Senate. I also currently, or have recently, served in or chaired the following committees: PhD Admissions Committees (Cellular & Molecular Biology Program, and Pharmaceutical Sciences Program), Curriculum Committees (Genetics Program, and School of Pharmacy Programs), Faculty Search Committees (x4), and Assistant Professor Mentoring Committees (x6).


Meeting Organization: Co-organizer (with Pierre Leopold), International Insect Hormone Workshop, Crete 2019; Organizing Committee, Japanese-American Frontiers of Science Symposium (2014-2016); Co-Moderator (with Sarah Siegrist), Cell Cycle & Cell Death session, The Allied Genetics Conference (2016); Co-organizer (with Robert Ward), Ecdysone Workshop, Annual Drosophila Research Conference (2010-2012).


Review Panels: National Institutes of Health, Special Emphasis Panel, Fellowship: Cell Biology, Developmental Biology and Bioengineering (2018); American Cancer Society, Institutional Research Grants (2018); Ad Hoc reviewer for National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO; Belgium).


Major Research Interests: Genetic and hormonal control of postembryonic development in Drosophila, including the regulation of body size and the initiation/coordination of metamorphosis.




photo of Rebecca BurdineRebecca Burdine
Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University


Candidacy Statement: I am honored to stand for election as a mid-career representative to the board of the GSA. As a mid-career researcher, I am familiar with the unique challenges we face in academia, both in terms of securing funding and in achieving work-life balance. I believe the GSA can help us to address these challenges by providing the resources and platform that are critical in supporting mid-career faculty. I see this supportive role of the GSA as having two main objectives: First, to expand career development opportunities and mentoring programs to help mid-career faculty with the challenges that accompany this particular career phase. Second, to more strongly involve mid-career faculty in promoting genetic research approaches to both those within and beyond the field. This could be achieved by specifically including mid-career faculty in coordinating conferences, publications, educational resources, and advocacy. I have extensive experience in research, education, and rare disease advocacy and, as a board member, would look forward to applying my expertise to the activities of the GSA.


I am especially dedicated to advancing scientific literacy for everyone, through outreach and science communication. As researchers, we have a duty to educate the public on the power of genetic approaches, and help them appreciate the promise of our research in extending our understanding of diseases and disorders. I would like to use this position with the GSA to work on educational materials for the general public to increase awareness and appreciation for basic research. Personally, I was hooked by the power of genetics during graduate school, when I joined Michael Stern’s lab at Yale University to study cell migration in C. elegans. The potential of genetic screens – essentially allowing the organism to reveal the secrets of cell behaviors – immediately attracted me, and has shaped my subsequent career. Such screens have also been instrumental in my studies of how organs are formed and positioned in the zebrafish body cavity, carrying across my postdoctoral work and into my own research group at Princeton University. I am especially proud of our successes in identifying new disease loci for genetic disorders such as Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia and idiopathic scoliosis. Furthermore, using genetics and model organisms to identify and understand genes involved in developmental disorders and diseases will become ever more relevant in the years to come.


Education: BS, Western Kentucky University (1990); PhD, Yale University, Department of Cell Biology (1997)


Career Summary: Postdoctoral Training: New York University Medical School, Skirball Institute, with Alexander F. Schier (1998-2002). Faculty Appointments: Assistant Professor (2003-2013), Associate Professor with tenure (2013-present) Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University.


Honors and Awards: HHMI Predoctoral Fellowship (1991- 1996); Anna Fuller Fund Fellow in Molecular Oncology (1997); Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Fellowship (1998-2001); 44th Mallinckrodt Scholar, Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Foundation (2003-2006); National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences (2013-2014); National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences (2016-2017)


Professional Service Activities: Board Member Appointments: International Zebrafish Society, IZFS (2016-2020); International Society of Differentiation (2018-2024).


Advisory Councils/Foundations/Committees:  Zebrafish Tilling Consortium Advisory Board (2008-2013); Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics, Founding Member and Chief Scientific Officer (2008-2016); NICHD Developmental Biology, Genetics, and Teratology Branch Expert Panel Member (2010); Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics Australia, Scientific Advisory Board (2011-2015); NICHD Scientific Vision Development Workshop, invited participant (2011); Pitt Hopkins Research Foundation, Chief Science Officer (2012-current); Ovid Therapeutics, Consultant and Clinical Trial Steering Committee (2016-current); Angelman Syndrome Natural History Study, Steering Committee Chair (2017-current);Angelman Syndrome Foundation, Scientific Advisory Board (2007-2011; 2018 – current); Perlara, Scientific Advisory Board (2017-current); Advisory Board for the Zebrafish International Resource Center (2018-current).


Editorial Activities: Cell Reports, editorial board (2012-current); International Zebrafish Society newsletter, editor (2016-current); Zebrafish, editorial board (2017-present);


Meeting Organization: Previous: Strategic Conference for Zebrafish Investigators, organizing committee (2013, 2015); Society for Developmental Biology Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting, co-organizer (2007, 2015); National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education, organizer (2015); 12th International Zebrafish Development and Genetics Conference in conjunction with the TAGC meeting, organizing committee and TAGC community representative (2016). Current: NICHD Structural Birth Defects Meeting, co-chair of the steering committee (2017-2020); FASEB SRC The Biology of Cilia and Flagella, co-organizer (2017-2021).


Review Boards: NIDDK Center for PKD Research Panel (Ad Hoc, 2005, 2010); NIGMS Special Emphasis Panel – MBRS Support of Competitive Research (Ad Hoc, 2007); Subject Matter Expert, Stage 1 Review NIH Challenge Grants (2009); NICHD IRG Developmental Biology Subcommittee (Ad Hoc, 2009); NICHD Special Emphasis Panel for Program Project Review (2010); NICHD Developmental Basis of Structural Birth Defects P01 Review (2011); Special Emphasis Panel for Zebrafish Research Tools and Techniques (2012); NSF IOS Animal Development & Evo/Devo Panel (2012, 2014, 2015); U. Penn Developmental Biology Training Grant, External Reviewer (2016); NICHD, IRG Developmental Biology Subcommittee (2012-2018).


Major Research Interests: My research focuses on left-right patterning and understanding how TGF-beta signaling shapes organ morphogenesis in zebrafish. More recently, our studies have expanded into modeling human diseases and disorders including RASopathies, ciliopathies, and Idiopathic Scoliosis.




Twitter: @rburdine1


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DIRECTOR (vote for one in each section)


photo of Buck SamuelBuck Samuel
Assistant Professor, Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research, Baylor College of Medicine; Faculty Member, Genetics and Genomics, Baylor College of Medicine; Faculty Member, Developmental Biology, Baylor College of Medicine

Candidacy Statement: As an enthusiastic member of GSA for nearly 10 years, I still vividly remember my first international worm meeting. From the highly engaged PIs to enthusiastic ovations for first time attendees, it was a vibrant celebration of collective purpose that can only come from a truly progressive organization. This mindset is deeply rooted in GSA and underlies the ‘Blue Sky’ redevelopment process that is underway. GSA needs to ‘be the change [we] want to see in the world,’ and I would be excited to help facilitate this process as a member of the Board. With that in mind, there are three interrelated areas where I believe GSA can make a dramatic impact: (1) promoting diversity and inclusion; (2) providing gateways for greater support and engagement; and (3) fostering interdisciplinary connections.


As a GSA Board member, I will work as a vocal advocate to promote diversity and inclusion. Innovative solutions grow from diverse perspectives and worldviews. As a scientific community we need to do more to ensure we do not lose these diverse voices, and ensure that they are included at all levels, from board members to organizers to speakers to participants to members. This means that GSA needs to grow opportunities in its committees and initiatives, including at each of the GSA conferences. Further, expansion of targeted efforts like travel and parental support awards to remove barriers to conference participation are needed. Remote access and live streaming of meetings also represent key advances in access and potential for outreach.


Engaging and including early career voices provide the perspective to help GSA be progressive and lead the way for the broader scientific community. GSA is taking the first steps, but I would advocate for much more. We need new ways to connect, support, and engage with each other. At every stage of our careers, we need support beyond our departments and institutions in order to progress. There are many ways to do this, including conference events for early career researchers and online forums. Local groups or meetups can also be powerful agents of support and community. I would work to more broadly incentivize these types of groups and make it easy for members to find and connect with each other in their home cities. As a new PI, I have also greatly benefitted from online forums like New PI Slack, so would work to establish a GSA equivalent, or ‘GSA gateways’. These gateways would be targeted first to early career researchers, then scaled to connect geneticists at all levels both inside and outside of the standard academic track. Creating more ways to stay connected will keep our community supported and engaged. We need all of our voices to help GSA maintain both our relevance in and advocacy for the fundamental role of genetics in our society.


GSA also has a unique opportunity to grow interdisciplinary relationships, and furthering these efforts would be a key goal of my tenure. Most of us know the scientific communities that surround our model system or field of choice, but we may not often meaningfully engage beyond these borders. In the age of genomics and genetic engineering, any organism can become a ‘model’ organism. GSA is in a unique position to develop and integrate communities centered on biological areas that translate across systems to address fundamental biological questions. As a board member, I will work to expand efforts such as TAGC and the related Alliance of Genome Resources to increase opportunities for collaboration among members and between scientific societies and other non-profits. These efforts have the potential to grow our membership base and expand the reach of the organization, but also to diversify GSA’s funding base.


As detailed below, I bring a track record of advocacy, engagement and leadership. I have a deep passion for community building and organizational development. This includes 20+ years of experience in governance through every stage of my academic career, including current service on the Faculty Senate of my institution. I have also served as CEO/Founding President for the Board of Directors of a community volunteer organization and as a board member of several national advocacy organizations. Throughout these experiences, I have worked under the guiding principle of fostering community by promoting diversity. I would deeply value the opportunity to serve the GSA community and would work hard as your advocate on its board.


Education: BSMicrobiol, BSMBB from University of Idaho (cum laude, Honors); PhD from Washington University in St. Louis with Jeffrey I. Gordon; Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts General Hospital with Gary Ruvkun


Career Summary: Assistant Professor, Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research and Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine (2015 – present); Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics; Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Molecular Biology (2008 – 2014)


Honors and Awards: NIH New Innovator Awardee (DP2; OD/NIDDK) (2017); Charles King Trust Senior Postdoctoral Fellow (2012 – 2014); NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow (F32; NIDDK) (2009 – 2012); Outstanding Graduate Thesis Award (IDSP), Washington University in St. Louis (2007); Lucille P. Markey Pathway Fellow in Human Pathobiology, Washington University in St. Louis (2003 – 2004); NSF Graduate Research Program Fellow (2003 – 2006); Donald R. and Cora E. Theophilus Award, top graduating male senior, University of Idaho (2002); Alumni Award for Excellence, University of Idaho (2001); Science and Technology Fellow, United States Department of State, Embassy of the United States, Paris, France (2000)


Professional Service Activities: 2009 – present: Genetics Society of America [‘Blue Sky’ Strategic Planning Retreat Member, May 2018]


LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE AND INSTITUTIONAL SERVICE: Senator-at-large, Faculty Senate, Baylor College of Medicine (2018 – present); Coordinator, Houston Area Worm Group (HAWG) (2018 – present); Co-Chair, Curriculum Committee and Steering Committee member, Immunology and Microbiology Program, Baylor College of Medicine (2016 – present); Executive Vice President (2005) and Representative, Graduate Professional Council, Washington University in St. Louis (2003 – 2005); Midwest Regional Chair and Member, Board of Directors, National Association for Graduate and Professional Students (2003 – 2004); General Education Task Force Member, University of Idaho (1999 – 2001); Planning and Budget Committee Member, University of Idaho (1999 – 2001); Student Body Vice President (2000), Senator (1999), Associated Students of Univ. of Idaho (1999 – 2000)


COMMUNITY SERVICE: Chief Executive Officer (2002), Founding President and Member of Board of Directors, Latah Community Volunteer Center, Moscow, ID (2001 – 2002); AmeriCorps Volunteer, Community of Moscow, ID (2000 – 2001)


NATIONAL WORKSHOPS: Organizer, Microbiome workshop at International C. elegans Conference – “Long lost friends: reuniting C. elegans and its natural microbiome in the lab” (Los Angeles, CA), June 2017; Panelist / Invited Speaker, The National Academies Institute for Laboratory Animal Research Roundtable workshop – “Animal Models for Microbiome Research: Advancing Basic and Translational Science” (Washington, DC), December 2016


REVIEW PANELS: Adhoc reviewer for Genetics and 15+ other journals; ECR Peer Review Panel member, eLife journal (2017 – present); National Institutes of Health NHGRI H3Africa special emphasis panel (2017)


Major Research Interests: Genetics and genomics of host-microbiome interactions – Our resident microbes (or microbiome) dictates much of our health and susceptibility to diseases of all kinds. Research in our lab aims to comprehensively identify the molecular pathways that govern microbiome programming of host physiology and development. We tackle this question from both host and microbial perspectives by leveraging the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and its natural microbiome as a high-throughput platform for discovery.




photo of Jordan WardJordan Ward
Assistant Professor of MCD Biology, UC Santa Cru


Candidacy Statement: It is truly an amazing time to be a geneticist. Technologies such as genome editing, new sequencing platforms, and powerful tools to manipulate genes and proteins have allowed incredible scientific advances. However, young investigators face a set of unique challenges in establishing their labs and securing funding. It is crucial to have their viewpoints articulated to shape GSA direction and policy to ensure that the GSA grows and thrives moving forward. I am tapped into the community of early career investigators and am keen to discuss and advocate for their interests.


I was invited to represent the views of early career scientists and to participate in the GSA “Blue Sky” strategic planning meeting held in May 2018, where a small group of stakeholders brainstormed ideas and new directions for the GSA. The meeting was driven by over 900 responses to a survey sent to GSA members, with good representation by early career investigators. Following my participation in this meeting, I am delighted to be nominated for a position on the GSA Board where I would have the opportunity to further shape the direction of the GSA. I am a member of New PI Slack, a community of 900+ new investigators from around the world, and am tapped into the biggest challenges that new investigators face in establishing their labs and careers. Here, I share my experience and advice, and learn from the successes and challenges faced by my fellow early career researchers.


My experience both in science and supporting activities aligns strongly with the GSA mission of deepening our understanding of the living world by advancing the field of genetics, and their emphasis on involving early career scientists in committees, outreach, advocacy, and strategic direction.  I am passionate about improving scientific communication and career development, and I would want to be involved with the Publications Committee and Early Career Scientist Steering Committee.


I have been active in the C. elegans community, organizing two workshops at the last GSA worm meeting, and organizing a recent Bay Area C. elegans meeting. My group also works with the human parasite, Brugia malayi and I am excited about how new technologies are increasing the range of organisms with which we can work to answer fundamental unanswered questions in genetics.


Having recently successfully navigated the academic job search process, I am painfully aware how many trainee and young investigator stressors (increased postdoctoral training times, securing fellowships/funding, job searches) are aggravated by the ability to disseminate one’s work in well-regarded journals. To help ease some of these frustrations, I became involved with the journal Micropublications, initially as a reviewer, later as a participant in a brainstorming session to design the submission platform, and now as an Editorial Board member. This journal aims to rapidly publish peer-reviewed single pieces of data. The journal advances the pace of research, disseminating unpublished results that would otherwise languish in file cabinets and forgotten laptop folders. advancing the pace of research. Methods and tools are rapidly communicated to the community and graduate students and undergraduates can get experience with publication very early in their training. We must continue to find novel ways to speed conyeyance of our results in ways that reduce trainee and young investigator stressors, and I'm interested in helping GSA and its members to do so.


After I was awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, I wrote a widely-circulated blog post detailing the lessons I learned that were not evident or described in other resources ( I will continue providing trainees and young investigators with the skills and resources required to establish their careers. Going forward, it’s crucial to support the next generation of scientists. I would also bring to the Board the perspective of a new faculty member at a Hispanic serving institution with over 40% first generation college students.


Education: Ph.D., Cancer Research UK, Clare Hall Laboratories and University of London; Postdoctorate, University of California, San Francisco


Career Summary: University of California, San Francisco Postdoc, Gene Expression (06/2016); University of London, London, England, Ph.D., Biochemistry (05/2008); University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, M.Sc., Microbiology (06/2005); University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, B.Sc. (Hon), Microbiology (11/2001)


Honors and Awards: NIH Pathway to Independency K99/R00 award, NIGMS (2014-2019); Postdoctoral fellowship from Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2011-2013); Postdoctoral fellowship from the Terry Fox Foundation (last year of fellowship declined) (2009-2012); University of Alberta Excellence in Teaching Letter of Commendation (2003); Alberta Minister of Learning Scholarship (2003); Valedictorian at University of Alberta Fall Convocation (2001)


Professional Service Activities: Participated in "Blue Sky" Strategic Planning meeting for the Genetics Society of America (May 2018); Organizer, Bay Area Worm Meeting, UC Santa Cruz (May 2018); WormBase Micropublication Review (October 2017); Co-organizer, Parasitic Nematodes: 3rd "Bridging the Divide" Workshop, 21st International C. elegans meeting, UCLA (2017); Co-organizer, CRISPR workshop, 21st International C. elegans meeting, UCLA (2017); K99 grant writing workshop. Invited panelist. American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting (2016)


2018 Micropublications Editorial Board: Reviewer for eLife, PLoS Genetics, Micropublications, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Genetics, Nature Communications, International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance


Service to the University: Spoke to ACCESS program students and led them on a tour of my lab (Fall 2017); Public outreach. Gave a talk about CRISPR/Cas9 editing and genomic medicine and environment engineering at the Temple Beth-El as part of the "Brotherhood Bagel Lunch." (Fall 2017); Invited panelist. UCSC STEM Postdoc Association (USPA) Job interview preparation workshop: Chalk-Talk. Four hour workshop where we discussed the academic interview process in general, and specifics of a chalk talk. Two postdocs gave practice chalk talks and the faculty panelists questioned them, simulating an actual chalk talk. (Fall 2017); Invited speaker. UCSC STEM Postdoc Association (USPA) Grant writing workshop. Presentation on preparing K99/R00 applications. (July 2017); Presented "Publishing Scientific Results, Conflict of Interest" lecture for STEM Diversity Program Summer Research Institute Responsible Conduct of Research course. (July 2017); Poster judge at UC LEADS symposium at UCLA. (March 2017)


Major Research Interests: The Ward lab is interested in how the remarkable complexity and noise of gene regulation is converted into the beautiful and precise cellular behaviors that drive animal development. Understanding how a genomic blueprint is read by transcription factors to control gene regulatory programs is challenging in animals due to the complexity of tissues and the often-long distances between transcription factor binding sites and regulated genes.


We use the nematode C. elegans as a model organism to approach this problem. In addition to its powerful genetics, simple tissues, transparency, and invariant cell lineage, C. elegans has an incredibly compact genome, which makes linking transcription factor binding to cognate gene regulation quite straightforward. We use a combination of genetics, molecular biology, microscopy, in vitro biochemistry, and genomics to determine how individual, evolutionarily conserved transcription factors regulate distinct gene expression programs controlling cell division and differentiation and organ development in living animals. We are especially interested in transcription factor regulation of three cellular processes: i) the nematode molt, which is the shedding of the old skin (cuticle) and generation of a new one; and ii) spermatogenesis. Molting is an essential process required for growth in any organism with an exoskeleton, and in nematodes involves a striking orchestration of asymmetric cell division, cell migrations and fusions, protease inhibition and release, signaling, extracellular matrix remodeling, and stereotyped behaviors. We have also worked on the development of the nematode vulva.


We also extend our findings into the human parasitic nematode Brugia malayi, which causes the disfiguring disease lymphatic filariasis, in an effort to understand how the gene regulatory networks evolve in the context of a parasitic life cycle. We are also motivated by the public health implications of this work: parasitic nematodes infect over 1.5 billion people globally and also threaten food availability by infecting crops and livestock. As there are only a small number of drugs currently available to fight parasitic nematode infections (ie. lymphatic filariasis, ascariasis, strongyloidiasis), novel approaches are desperately needed. Molting is a particularly good target as it is essential, involves nematode-specific molecules, and is regulated by many druggable targets (proteases, nuclear hormone receptors, etc.). By characterizing key developmental processes in parasites, we aim to develop new approaches to combat helminthic infections.




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