Biophysical Society Newsletter | November 2017
BIOPHYSICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
Biophysicist in Profile MEGAN VALENTINE
Officers President Lukas Tamm President-Elect Angela Gronenborn Past-President Suzanne Scarlata Secretary Frances Separovic Treasurer Kalina Hristova Council
Megan Valentine grew up in the small town of Tamaqua, in the coal regions of northeastern Pennsylvania. Her father worked in a factory that made office furniture, and her mother was a medical transcriptionist. Val- entine was a curious child, interested in how and why the world worked the way it did. “I was naturally drawn to science classes and trivia games when I was growing up,” she says. “I also loved reading about the lives of famous scientists, and particularly physicists who unlocked the secrets of atomic energy and astrophysics.” When she started her undergraduate studies at Lehigh University, she thought she might end up teaching high school science or working in an engineering firm, but after a taste of scientific research, she was hooked. “I decided to major in physics in college, and became involved in polymer physics research, which I found had a great balance of fundamental dis- covery and practical applications to improve technologies and products,” she explains. “Biological materials offer some of the most interesting polymer systems so my interest in biophysics grew from that. Later, I be- came fascinated with how biological systems can move, sense, and actively respond, and how their physical properties enable this.” Valentine was the first in her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, receiving her bachelor of science in physics in 1997. She then earned a master’s degree in physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999, followed by her PhD in physics from Harvard University in 2003. She went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow in biological sciences at Stanford University, where she studied motor proteins using optical traps.
Zev Bryant Jane Clarke Bertrand Garcia-Moreno Teresa Giraldez Ruben Gonzalez, Jr. Ruth Heidelberger Robert Nakamoto Arthur Palmer Gabriela Popescu Marina Ramirez-Alvarado Erin Sheets Joanna Swain
Biophysical Journal Jane Dyson Editor-in-Chief
Society Office Ro Kampman Executive Officer
Newsletter Executive Editor Rosalba Kampman Managing Editor Beth Staehle Contributing Writers and Department Editors Dorothy Chaconas Daniel McNulty Laura Phelan Raelle Reid
In 2007, she accepted a faculty position as assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), but deferred her start date to 2008 so that she could build sophis- ticated microscopy rooms that provided temperature control in a low noise (acoustic, electromagnetic, vibration) environment. “There were a number of problems with the renovation, and my labs were not completed until 2011. Since I could not pursue the experiments I had proposed in my job application and my tenure clock was running, I started a number of new collaborations and moved my research into entirely new directions. In hindsight, this was seren-
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Valentine at her desk in the Mechanical Engineering Department, UCSB.
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dipitous because it forced me to identify and leverage local resources and expertise at UCSB — for example, marine-inspired materials, and marine model organisms — which are now a major focus of my lab's portfolio.”
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