Awardee Profiles

Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers

Brad Rhew (2017)Cook Literacy Model SchoolWinston-Salem Forsyth County Schools
Casandra S. Cherry (2019)Phillips MiddleEdgecombe County Schools My philosophy as an educator is that I strive to find the abilities in all children I teach, and empower them to believe in those abilities and be the best people they can be. My goal as an educator is to prepare students globally, instill a growth mindset, and foster an appreciation for math and science.
Renata Crawley (2019)West Marion Elementary SchoolMcDowell County Schools Mrs. Renata Crawley has been a teacher at West Marion Elementary School located in McDowell County for the past 28 years.  Renata grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where a love of nature was instilled in her at a young age.  Hours were spent hiking mountain trails and fishing with her father on Lake James.  Renata has always believed that children become most excited when time is spent outdoors. 
Justin JonesAnsonville Elementary SchoolAnson County Schools Justin Jones teaches fourth and fifth grade science at Ansonville Elementary School. Prior to beginning his teaching career, Jones received his BA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and worked for nine years in the biomedical field.
Sallie SenseneyMountain Heritage High SchoolYancey County Schools Sallie Senseney has taught Biology, AP Biology, and Earth Science at Mountain Heritage High School since 2010.  She returned to MHHS, her home high school, after earning an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  At UNC, she was a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Scholar in the UNC-BEST program.  She earned her National Board Certification in 2014 and a master’s degree in biology from Clemson University in 2017.
Mrs. Beverly Owens is an 8th grade science teacher at Kings Mountain Middle School in Cleveland County. She also teaches online Earth and Environmental Science, and coaches her school’s Science Olympiad team. Owens works closely with her Professional Learning Community, the “Science Squad,” and they implement a unique model of science-inclusive blended learning in their classes.
When educators create a positive emotional climate in the classroom, where children feel safe—both physically and emotionally—almost anything can happen. That’s the general philosophy of Andi Webb, a math coach at Alderman Road Elementary School in Fayetteville, N.C., and recipient of the 2015 Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers from The Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood. On this edition of FOCUS In Sound, we meet an elementary school mathematics teacher who is spearheading innovation in math education, through her activities both in and out of the classroom. 
Claudia Walker cringes when she hears that dismissive expression so common in schools and workplaces across America. That oh-too-frequent excuse that comes up any time a student struggles with a problem and doesn’t feel empowered to work it through. That familiar saying, “Oh, I’m just bad at mathematics.” “No one ever goes around saying, ‘I’m not good at reading,’” says Walker, a fifth grade teacher at Murphey Traditional Academy in Greensboro. “That mentality that it’s OK to be bad at math, we need to get that turned around.”
Tamica Stubbs When you think of a typical high school science class, the names Jeffrey Dahmer and Son of Sam probably don't spring to mind. But this is no typical science class. And Tamica Stubbs is no typical educator. And those serial killers in the curriculum? They are just the tip of the iceberg.

Career Awards at the Scientific Interface

Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.
TRANSCRIPT: I’m Markita Landry, I’m an assistant professor in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UC Berkeley. I study how nanoparticles can be functionalized synthetically to be useful for biological applications ranging from imaging to gene editing.
Dr. Andrea Goforth is a chemist who explores materials at the nanoscale. Join Burroughs Wellcome Fund to bring her Science In Focus.   As materials are made smaller and smaller, their properties change. Materials at the nanoscale act quite different from their macro-sized molecular counterparts. Dr. Andrea Goforth from Portland State University investigates various materials, like silicon and bismuth, to discover the possible new technologies that these differences may unlock for medical science.  
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.
Joshua Plotkin, Ph.D. Understanding Evolution Joshua Plotkin, Ph.D., uses mathematics and computation to study evolution on its most basic level—the genome, the genetic blueprint of life. “I want to understand the whole molecular kit and caboodle behind Darwin’s big idea,” said Dr. Plotkin, a 2005 recipient of a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface.

Career Awards for Medical Scientists

As a physician-scientist and a research team leader Alice Chen-Plotkin finds herself at home in numerous overlapping worlds.

Postdoctoral Enrichment Program

When Ishmail Abdus-Saboor was 14, he turned the third floor of his parents’ Philadelphia home into his personal laboratory. There in Germantown, he carefully tended to his experimental subjects, hundreds of freshwater crayfish, which he kept in dozens of shoebox-sized plastic containers. He clipped off various appendages of the unlucky crustaceans, then plied them with ginseng to see if the popular herbal remedy helped them regenerate their lost limbs or claws faster.
FOCUS In Sound #16: Pardis Sabeti Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.
When Feroz Papa was an internal medicine resident at the University of California, San Francisco he treated many patients with diabetes, giving them insulin and other treatments designed to restore the body’s balance of glucose. But he always knew he wasn’t treating the root of the problem.
When Aaron Batista graduated with philosophy and computer science degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994, he serendipitously stumbled into the budding field of bioengineering.  An interest in neuroscience eventually led him to a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, where he was surrounded by scientists trying to understand how populations of neurons communicate. In his own research, Batista wondered how neuronal communication can flex and change, allowing learning to take place.
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.  
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood. What is the biology of fear, the emotional response that drives so much behavior in humans and animals alike?
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the  FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood. 
Transcript:  FOCUS In Sound #13: Maria N. Geffen Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood. On this edition of FOCUS In Sound, we welcome a scientist who explores the way the brain encodes information about the world around us – she combines computational and biological approaches to study the mechanisms behind the transformation of sensory representations. 
Bijan Pesaran FOCUS In Sound #9: Bijan Pesaran Interview   Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.  
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.
Jane Koehler, M.D. Passion and Persistence Perhaps success in research comes down to two things: passion and persistence. Jane Koehler, M.D., recipient of a 2003 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research and a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), seemed to have both as a little girl.
John York, Ph.D. From the Beginning John York, Ph.D., who holds a dual appointment as associate professor of pharmacology and cancer biology and biochemistry at Duke University, recalls vividly his interview more than a decade ago for a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in Biomedical Sciences (CABS). As a member of the first CABS cohort in 1995, Dr. York has seen the program from every perspective: as an awardee and, later, as a member of its advisory committee. But through everything, that interview stands out.
Lisa Guay-Woodford, M.D. The baby came to Children’s Hospital in Boston with complex renal tubular disorder, and the house officer called for a series of tests to be run overnight. “He left me in charge to collect the data and samples and send them off to the labs to collect more data,” Dr. Lisa Guay-Woodford remembered.
Laura Miller   Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood. My guest on this edition of FOCUS In Sound is Dr. Laura Miller, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is the principal investigator in the Mathematical Physiology Group at UNC. 
William "Bil" Clemons
Dr. Lindsay Cowell Dr. Lindsay Cowell is one of an emerging new breed of scientists working in physical or computational sciences and answering biological questions. The question she is determined to answer is how do the two main parts of the body’s immune system communicate with each other in order to ward off harmful biological invaders.  Armed with such understanding, scientists will be better able to produce vaccines against a range of threatening agents.
2009-Paul Roepe's Interdisciplinary Approach to Science Bridges Fields to Educate Young Minds
Erica Ollmann Saphire One of the two explicit goals of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund is “to advance fields in the basic biomedical sciences that are undervalued or in need of particular encouragement.”  In other words, BWF seeks to help fill the funding gap described by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, by supporting high-risk, high-reward research.
Amy Wagers The Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Awards in the Biomedical Sciences (now reconfigured as the Career Awards for Medical Scientists) were designed to help young investigators bridge the career transition between their postdoctoral training and their early faculty positions. Amy Wagers, Ph.D., who is emerging as a leading researcher in stem cell biology, exemplifies the value of providing support at that critical juncture in a young scientist’s career.
Kathleen Caron With only a single hormone as her guide, Kathleen Caron, Ph.D., a recipient of a 2001 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, has toured nearly every human system. The hormone, adrenomedullin, is a powerful blood-vessel dilator that is present in cells throughout the body, playing a role in such diverse activities as metabolism, heart function, thirst, and stress.
Michael Black Studying Cell Transport to Stop Parasite InvasionDr. Michael Black July 2001 - Movement of traffic in cells is like an airport terminal. There is a constant flow of proteins, lipids, and sugars being taxied, loaded, or unloaded in and out of cells. Closely regulated cellular trafficking is essential for cell survival; and it is these cellular traffic patterns that have sparked the curiosity of Dr. Michael Black.
Alan Hunt "Cellular Mechanics"Dr. Alan Hunt January 2001 - Sometimes, today’s scientific technology is surprisingly close to the seemingly far-fetched ideas of science fiction.  Alan Hunt, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and biophysics research at the University of Michigan, is refining a tool that has been likened to the “tractor beam” on Star Trek.  The tool is called optical tweezers, and Hunt is using it to study cellular mechanics.
Joseph Terwilliger Portrait of a Reluctant Geneticist:Dr. Joseph D. Terwilliger October 2001 - He is an anomaly in the world of science, a man who never intended to be a scientist but seems to have a knack for genetics. Joseph D. Terwilliger, Ph.D., assistant professor in the psychiatry department at Columbia University, and one of the Fund’s Hitching-Elion Fellows, ended up in graduate school at Columbia University because it paid better than a fast-food restaurant.
Paul Buckmaster In Search of the Cause of Temporal Lobe EpilepsyDr. Paul Buckmaster
2002 - What began as an unusual hobby became a life-directing pursuit for Bryan Sutton, one of Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s 2000 Career Awardees in Biomedical Sciences. It is not the ingenious science this researcher is involved in, but rather his interest in playing the bagpipes, that topped his priority list in seeking a university faculty position.As a dedicated bagpipe player, Sutton decided, “Every place I picked had to have a good bagpipe band."
Todd Golub Dr. Todd Golub Pioneers Work in Fingerprinting Cancer 2002 - Imagine taking the guesswork out of treating cancer. Imagine a time when an oncologist can run a DNA profile on a patient’s tumor and then consult a database to find exactly the right treatment for that particular patient.
Joseph DeRisi Dr. Joseph DeRisi - New Initiatives in Malaria 2002 - "You don't just work on malaria; you have a relationship with malaria," says Dr. Joeseph DeRisi, who is working to identify the genes essential to the survival of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the deadliest form of malaria and infects 300 to 500 million people each year.
Kristin Scott Dr. Kristin Scott: Discovering How the Brain Perceives the Sensory World
Matt Redinbo CABS Awardee Dr. Matt Redinbo: PXR* and Promiscuous Enzymes
Carla Koehler Dr. Carla Koehler: Studying Yeast Yields Important Data on How Human Cells Generate Energy Dr. Carla Koehler2003 - Dr. Carla Koehler wants to know how the energy factory in every human cell assembles itself, and how that construction sometimes goes awry. Armed with this knowledge, it may be possible to design new drugs to correct the operational defects and, in the process, treat or prevent a host of diseases.
Ryohei Yasuda Dr. Ryohei Yasuda: A Run of “Fortunate Bad Luck” Led Him from Physics to Biophysics and Into Imaging Single Protein Molecules 2003 - A glowing dot spinning like a dervish features in the movie Ryohei Yasuda made as a graduate student. Though by no means a Hollywood production, Dr. Yasuda’s film is an elegant sight to biologists.
Maria Schumacher Dr. Maria Schumacher and Proteins: Up Close and Personal 2004 - Maria Schumacher looks at life at the most fundamental level. “You could call me a minimalist,” she says. “I’m interested in understanding cell growth and development from a structural level. What I specifically want to understand is how the proteins involved in transcribing DNA into the countless other proteins involved in cellular activity carry out their functions at the atomic level.”
David Scadden Dr. David Scadden Exploits the Vast Potential of Stem Cells 2004 - His curiosity about how HIV is able to wreak havoc on a broad spectrum of immune cells led hematologist/oncologist Dr. David Scadden to investigate the chameleon of cells: stem cells-- unspecialized cells that renew themselves through cell division and can morph into cells with specific functions, such as insulin-producing pancreatic cells.
Thomas Hudson 2004 - Within the next five years, Dr. Thomas Hudson predicts that the asthma community can identify 90 percent of the genes involved with asthma—an ambitious, but necessary step in finding targeted treatments for the disease.
Michael Elowitz 2003 - Editor’s Note: Dr. Elowitz, along with fellow BWF Interfaces awardee, Dr. Eric Siggia, and two other researchers, published an article that made the cover of the August 16, 2002 issue of Science. The study, “Stochastic Gene Expression in a Single Cell,” revealed that stochasticity (“noise”) in the process of gene expression often leads two nearly identical genes to produce unequal amounts of protein. Noise fundamentally limits the accuracy of gene regulation.
Brian Drucker 2003 - Curing cancer is Dr. Brian Druker’s only business, and he has reached a significant milestone: He helped get a revolutionary type of cancer drug onto the market and into the hands of patients suffering from chronic mylogenous leukemia (CML). Unlike traditional chemotherapy, the new drug, marketed as Gleevec, targets the genetic abnormality that causes the cancer and leaves healthy cells alone, thereby causing far fewer side effects.
Erica Saphire, 2003 Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences 2005 - Long before modern media turned the Ebola virus into a household name, the virus may have been the cause behind the plauge in Athens in 430 B.C. some scientists suspect. The Greek historian Thucydides recorded his experiences, not only as an observer but also as a sufferer.
Wenqing Xu, Ph.D., 2003 Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease
Louis Muglia, M.D., Ph.D. 2007 - Dr. Louis Muglia likes to spend Saturday mornings in his office. "It's the time where I have the most freedom to think and plan for an extended period," he said when reached in his office on a recent Saturday morning. "I can really focus without trying to balance calls from patients and administrative obligations."
Joseph "Mike " McCune, M.D., Ph.D. Back when people thought AIDS affected only gay men or injection-drug users, Joseph “Mike” McCune, M.D., Ph.D., had just started his internal medicine residency at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).  It was 1982, and scores of men, many his age, were being brought to the wards of San Francisco General Hospital, gasping for breath and heading toward death.
Monte Evans (Shodor) 2007 - Monte Evans knows firsthand the power of a good mentor--but it’s doubtful he expected to find his mentor in a hair salon. Today, Mr. Evans is a computational scientist at the Shodor Education Foundation, a Durham, N.C.-based nonprofit organization that seeks to advance science and mathematics education through the use of computational science, modeling and technology.
2005 - “Medical science has made important strides in fighting cancers in children, but we are now at an important juncture,” says Todd R. Golub, M.D., a respected young pediatric oncologist whose career got a jump start through a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences.
Lora Hooper, 2000 Career Award in Biomedical Science and Karen Guillemin, 2001 Career Award in Biomedical Science
Erin C. Gaynor, Ph.D. - 2002 Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences
Michael Gale, Ph.D. 2007 - When the engine in Michael Gale’s 1968 Ford Mustang is not purring smoothly, he takes it apart to find the problem and then rebuilds it.
Pardis Sabeti, M.D., D. Phil. 2007 - It’s hardly common to lead a double life as a top scientific researcher and cutting-edge rock musician. But Pardis Sabeti, M.D., D. Phil., who received a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences in 2005, satisfies that billing.
George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D. 2006 - Dr. George Q. Daley believes that when it comes to utilizing stem cells for research, 20 years from now people will look at our current time as a historical curiosity. “There’s always a certain amount of hesitation when new technologies are introduced,” Dr. Daley said. “Especially when that technology challenges the way we look at ourselves.”
Jill Rafael, Ph.D., 1999 Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences October 2000 - As a child, Jill Rafael watched the Jerry Lewis telethons for muscular dystrophy.  Seeing the crippled children on television made quite an impression.  Today, her goal is no less than to understand the origin and development of neuromuscular disorders.

Student STEM Enrichment Program

In the Great Smoky Mountains, Madison High School senior Chloe Schneider discovered something she never knew before. The mountains are home to a rich variety of snail species – but, some of them are in severe trouble. Ordinarily, knowing details about the state’s mollusk population serves as a random bit of trivia for a party game. But, for Schneider, this knowledge was critical. Nearly 50 percent of North Carolina’s snails are endangered, but the ones in the Great Smokies are losing ground thanks to environmental changes.
Project SEED It was a sight not often witnessed at science meetings: 30 or so African American students walking in a row, all dressed in black suits and white shirts or blouses.
Rochelle Schwartz-Bloom   Rochelle Schwartz-Bloom trained as a neuropharmacologist and has devoted her basic science research to understanding the mechanisms of neuroprotection after neuronal injury.  Along with her accomplishments at the bench, Rochelle has a long-standing interest in science education, and in how to make science education more effective and attractive.  In fact, she now devotes herself to that enterprise exclusively.

Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease

Over the past few years, the microbial world’s reputation has been turned on its head. Since Louis Pasteur proved the so-called germ theory of disease in almost 150 years ago, we humans have diligently tried to purge bacteria from our lives. But scientists today are telling us at that the story isn’t so simple, and that the bacteria that colonize our bodies – more than one hundred trillion of them – are actually our coevolutionary partners, crucial to maintaining human health.
Welcome to FOCUS In Sound, the podcast series from the FOCUS newsletter published by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  I’m your host, science writer Ernie Hood.  
James Chen From his first days in graduate school, Zhijian “James” Chen, Ph.D., was hooked by the beauty of the biochemical pathway of a small protein called ubiquitin, so named because it occurs in the cells of all types of organisms. At the time, during the mid-1980s, fewer than a dozen laboratories were working on how and why ubiquitin became tagged onto other proteins in the cell.
Andrew Neish, M.D., has seen more of Salmonella than most people endure in a lifetime. Salmonella are the bacteria most commonly associated with foodborne illness—a malady commonly, though inaccurately, called food poisoning, which strikes huge numbers of people each year.  But these and other members of the bacterial world still hold his respect.