Nearly two hundred MBL staffers gathered in the Meigs Room on Nov. 14 for an afternoon tea to meet Joan Ruderman, the MBL’s new president and director. Ruderman was already a familiar face to many in the room, as she has been affiliated with the MBL since 1974, when she was a student in the Embryology course. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would one day become director of the MBL,” Ruderman said, but she probably also didn’t imagine how wide-ranging her MBL involvement would become.
Ruderman joined the biology faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1976 and also returned to teach in the Embryology course, which she later co-directed. She had a summer lab in Loeb, then in Lillie, and finally in Whitman (now Rowe) for nearly 20 years, during which time she and her husband, Gerald, and their daughter, Zoe, lived in the Devil’s Lane and Memorial Circle cottages. Over the years, Ruderman pitched in to serve the MBL in many capacities, including membership on committees ranging from Daycare to Research Services to Academic Affairs, and she joined the Board of Trustees in 1986. “I have a reasonably good feel for the history of the institution and how it functions,” Ruderman told the gathering, and it remains “an incredible honor to serve the MBL” in her new position.
Ruderman noted that the MBL is not immune to the tough funding climate and financial challenges that all research institutions face. While the MBL faces difficult budgetary decisions, the good news is “MBL science is terrific; some of the best in the world,” she said. “Our resident faculty programs are blossoming; the summer research program is strong; and the MBL courses get better and better every year. That is the key thing: We are moving forward from a position of scientific strength.” Over the next several weeks, Ruderman will be visiting MBL centers and labs to talk to staff and get their input and ideas “as we move forward toward a stronger institution.”