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Joshua E. Neimark Memorial Travel Assistance Award winners investigate stem cell transplantation, sustainable growth, women in academia, and conservation science

Four newly named beneficiaries of the Joshua E. Neimark Memorial Travel Assistance Endowment are investigating a new stem cell transplantation technology, the macroeconomics of sustainability, women in academia and conservation science, respectively.

The award recipients will receive partial financial support to attend America's largest general scientific conference, the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 17-21 February in Washington, DC. (See

All four recipients submitted posters selected to be presented at the AAAS Annual Meeting. They are:

  • Ms. Andreina Parisi-Amon, Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University;

  • Mr. William Burnside, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico;
  • Ms. Diane Yu Gu, Department of Higher Education and Organizational Change in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); and
  • Mr. Jesse Hastings, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University.

A poster by Andreina Parisi-Amon's team at Stanford University relates to stem cell transplantation, which could prove useful for treating a range of traumatic injuries and diseases. Currently, the development of such therapies has been limited by poor cell survival rates following transplantation, she explained. Hydrogel-based scaffolds might help protect stem cells during transplantation, but commercially available hydrogels can be problematic. Ms. Parisi-Amon and her colleagues designed a novel family of protein hydrogels. Dubbed, "Mixture-Induced Two-Component Hydrogels," or MITCH, the components are recombinantly engineered to gel once they are mixed under physiological conditions. The MITCH technology makes it possible to biocompatibly encapsulate cells for transplantation, she said.

Examining "a success story of sustainable fisheries management"the Bristol Bay salmon fisherywas the starting point for University of New Mexico ecologist William Burnside's winning poster, entitled "Toward a Macroecology of Sustainability." With several colleagues, he tracked the flows of energy and materials through the fishery to evaluate its connectedness and sustainability. The maintenance and growth of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery and other complex systems should require increased energy supplies. To test this hypothesis for modern economies, the team turned to global macroeconomic data. They found a "a positive scaling relationship between per capita energy use and per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) both across nations and within nations over time," highlighting an underappreciated ecological constraint on modern human societies.

How do student-faculty interactions support or limit women's aspirations to pursue academic careers? Diane Yu Gu interviewed ten female doctoral students to investigate how interactions with faculty members might have influenced the students' goals and experiences. She concluded, based on those discussions, that mentoring provided to women doctoral students could be enhanced by improving organizational practices and policies related to advising, funding, counseling and social opportunities.

Jesse Hastings looked at "International Environmental NGOs and Conservation Science and Policy: A Case from Brazil." In particular, he investigated the experiences of Conservation International's Marine Management Area Science program (MMAS) as a case study in translating marine science results into coastal policy outcomes. Hastings concluded, based on qualitative data, document analysis, observation and interviews, that the group "enhanced the receptiveness of managers, policymakers, partners, and the public to MMAS scientific results." Designing locally and globally relevant studies, ensuring the participation of key stakeholders, and communicating understandable results were keys to success.


Contact: Katharine Zambon
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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