Biophysical Society Newsletter - August 2016





Not because I did not want to come back, but it was difficult to leave my son at daycare after only two months and think straight while being sleep deprived,” she shares. “In spite of this, I was lucky I could count on my husband. We worked as a team to enjoy our family and still be produc- tive in the lab.” Her advisor, Goodman, was also a support during this time. “When I told her I was pregnant she gave me a good piece of advice: plan the experiments you want to do for 10–12 months after you come back from your mater- nity leave and have everything written so you can execute your plans straightforwardly,” Vásquez recalls. In Vásquez and Cordero’s quest to maintain two successful careers, Vásquez has found role models in another married couple running a lab together: Lily Jan and Yuh Nung Jan . “The way their research lines complement each other, ion channel function and neuronal development, is quite amazing,” she says. “One of the quotes in Yuh Nung Jan’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute profile has always fascinated me, especially be- cause my husband and I started our lab a couple of years ago, after receiving our postdoctoral train- ing in somatosensation with the goal of studying ion channel structure-function, electrophysiology, and behavior: ‘It is relatively rare in science that two researchers complement each other in ability and in temperament such that the sum of the col- laboration is more than the two parts.’”

The Biophysical Society has been a supportive community for Vásquez over the years. “The So- ciety has given me the opportunity to collaborate and publish with people who otherwise I would not have met. The Annual Meeting is the ideal setting to broadcast the science we do in our lab and to find and nurture long-term collaborators and friends,” she says. “The first time I went, I felt overwhelmed because I did not know anyone and everything was too new and exciting. Now, it feels as if I’m going to a family reunion. I use the meeting every year to boost my enthusiasm and recharge my batteries.” She has met many other Latin American scientists at Biophysical Society meetings and became involved with SOBLA, the Sociedad de Biofísicos Latino Americanos, a group with the goal of strengthening biophysics in Latin America. Outside of work, Vásquez loves to spend time with her family. “Because we all live apart, I always find the time to travel and meet with my parents, siblings, and niblings,” she shares. Vásquez offers this advice to biophysicists starting out in their careers: “I would advise young bio- physicists to follow what they are really passionate about. I feel very lucky because I get paid to do something that I love to do, and I always tell my juniors that working in a research lab should not feel like a job but instead something fun and en- tertaining,” Vásquez says. “Curiosity should drive their research and their willingness to explore more and more everyday.”

Valeria Vásquez with her son.

Profilee-at-a-Glance Institution University of Tennessee Health Science Center Area of Research Functional and Structural Basis of ion channels involved in mechanosensation

2016 Biophysics Week Affiliate Event Award Winner

Congratulations to Pavle Andjus , University of Belgrade, Serbia, who was selected from the 2016 Biophysics Week affiliate event organizers to receive a complimentary registration to the Society’s 2017 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Biophysics Week event held by Andjus was a series of popular public lectures at the Kolarac Foundation in Belgrade. This event was one of the many won- derful affiliate events held by biophysicists around the world that made Biophysics Week a success. We expect the next Biophysics Week, March 6-10, 2017, will be just as successful with enthusiastic participation. Keep an eye out for the 2017 call for Biophysics Week affiliate events in fall of 2016.

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