MBL Awards Whitman Center Fellowships to Outstanding Scientists

WOODS HOLE, Mass. – Twenty-eight scientists from around the world have been named 2018 Whitman Center Fellows by the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL). These fellowships enable exceptional scientists, including Early Career Fellows, to conduct independent research at the MBL and take advantage of its resources and collaborative scientific community.

Maryna Lesoway of University of Illinois, one of this year’s Whitman Center Early Career Fellows, in a tank room at the MBL in 2017. Credit: Jennifer Tsang

Maryna Lesoway of University of Illinois, one of this year’s Whitman Center Early Career Fellows, in a tank room at the MBL in 2017. Credit: Jennifer Tsang

The Whitman Center Fellows will be supported for up to 10 weeks to pursue research within the MBL’s strategic vision, particularly novel imaging and computation strategies; the comparative evolution, development, neuroscience, cell biology, and regeneration of marine organisms; microbial ecology; and the ecology of coastal systems.

“We look forward to the arrival of these outstanding investigators over the coming months and to their integration into the MBL’s unique environment of collaborative and risk-taking research,” said David Mark Welch, Director of the MBL Division of Research.

The MBL provides access to state-of-the-art instrumentation, innovative imaging technology, genome sequencing, model marine and freshwater organisms, and modern laboratory facilities. In addition, the MBL fosters a highly collaborative environment within its broad community of scientists from the Lab’s year-round resident program, Whitman Center, MBL Fellows program, and course faculty and instructors.

Several of the fellows are coming to the MBL for the first time to launch a new project, while others will continue research programs they established in the Whitman Center in prior years. All will benefit from the MBL’s convening environment, which is dedicated to offering scientists the space, time, inspiration, and support to intensively pursue research of fundamental importance.

The 2018 Whitman Center Fellows hail from 22 different institutions in 7 nations. The fellows and their research projects are:

Whitman Center Early Career Fellows

Lillian Fritz-Laylin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Aquatic chytrid fungi and the evolution of cell motility

Liam Holt, New York University School of Medicine
Evolutionary biophysics of the cytosol

Lynn Kee, Stetson University
Shaping the iridescent green structural color of marine bacteria Tenacibaculum discolor

Maryna Lesoway, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Understanding sex change in marine snails: leveraging ecotoxicology to identify developmental mechanisms

Andrea Pauli, Institute of Molecular Pathology (Austria)
Analysis of sperm-egg interaction and fusion by imaging and evolutionary profiling

Janet Sheung, Vassar College
State space reconstruction of Stentor coeruleus anatomy and regeneration

Victoria Sleight, University of Cambridge (UK)
Molluscan biomineralisation: development, repair and evolution

Shigeki Watanabe, Johns Hopkins University
Role of synaptic ribbons in graded neurotransmission
Whitman Center Fellows

Kambiz Alavian, Imperial College London
Regulation of synaptic transmission by Bcl-xL and Kv3.3

Tobias Baskin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Cellulose organization and growth anisotropy: live-cell imaging with polarized-light microscopy in 3D

Titus Brown, University of California, Davis
Improving transcriptome resources for novel marine models

Lionel Christiaen, New York University
Transmission of somatic knock-in by germline regeneration in the tunicate Ciona

Karen Crawford, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Generating transgenic knock-out squid embryos

Scott Dawson, University of California, Davis
Mechanisms and evolutionary implications of branched microtubule networks in Rhizarian amoeba

Patrick Emery, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Establishing Parhyale hawaiensis as model for the study of circatidal clocks

Ben Evans, McMaster University (Canada)
How do important things evolve? Using genome editing to study rapid evolution of sex determination

John David Furlow, University of California, Davis
Investigating nuclear receptor function in vivo with advanced genome editing

Edgar Gomes, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisboa (Portugal)
A role for cell anisotropy on nucleus-cytoskeleton connections

José Luis Gómez-Skarmeta, Centro Andaluz de Biologia del Desarrollo (Spain)
Generation of epigenomic data to unravel the regulatory principles governing the evolution of the unique morphology of skate fins

Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido, University of Cambridge (UK)
Unravelling the principles for visuo-motor transformations within the cephalopod brain

Pierre Gönczy, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)
Probing conservation and diversity of centriole elimination mechanisms in starfish oocytes

Jeffrey Gross, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Elucidating the molecular and cellular underpinnings of retinal pigment epithelium regeneration using zebrafish

G.W. Gant Luxton, University of Minnesota
Non-conventional nuclear-cytoplasmic transport and DYT1 dystonia

Paul Maddox, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
LITE imaging for high-resolution analysis of subcellular processes

Tetsuya Nakamura, Rutgers University
Revealing the genetic mechanisms underlying diversities of dermal and endochondral bones in vertebrate evolution

Christopher Sansam, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
The embryonic DNA replication program

Denisa Wagner, Boston Children’s Hospital
Role and localization of peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PAD4) during neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation

Rafael Yuste, Columbia University
The HydraLab: Experimental and computational methods for neural circuit analysis


The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery – exploring fundamental biology, understanding marine biodiversity and the environment, and informing the human condition through research and education. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution and an affiliate of the University of Chicago.