Biophysical Society Newsletter | October 2017

Newsletter OCTOBER 2017 BPS Honors Eight Outstanding Biophysicists


62 nd BPS Annual Meeting February 17-21, 2018 January 15, 2018 Early Registration and Late Abstract Submission 2018-2019 Congressional Fellowship December 15, 2017 Applications Biophysics Week 2018 January 15, 2018 Affiliate Event Registration

The Biophysical Society is proud to announce the 2018 Society award recipients. These members will be honored at the 62nd Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, in February.

Jue Chen , Rockefeller University, will receive the Anatrace Mem- brane Protein Award for her contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of multidrug transporters, especially the cystic fibrosis transmembrane

Leslie Loew , University of Connecti- cut Health Center, will receive the Distinguished Service Award for his commitment to the Biophysical Society and his untiring service as the Editor-in-Chief of Biophysical Journal , demonstrating sustained dedication to maintaining the Journal’s mission, high standards, and scientific integrity.

conductance regulator, and her advancements in finding more effective therapies for human diseases. Wonhwa Cho , University of Illinois, Chicago, will receive the Avanti Award in Lipids for his pioneering work in the study of lipid binding domains, his innovative develop- ment of lipid-specific fluorescent sensors for real-time imaging in cells, and his contributions to understanding the role of cholesterol in lipid remodeling.

Carrie Partch , University of Cali- fornia, Santa Cruz, will receive the Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award for her groundbreaking combina- tion of biophysics and cell biology that is defining how protein confor- mational changes control circadian clock timing. Madeline Shea , University of Iowa, will receive the Emily M. Gray Award for her outstanding con- tributions to biophysics education at all educational levels in local, regional, and national communities. James Spudich , Stanford University, will receive the Founders Award for his groundbreaking techniques mea- suring forces and structural changes in single ribosomes, DNA polymer- ases, cell cytoplasm, red blood cells, actin filaments, and T-cell receptor.

Bianxiao Cui , Stanford University, will receive the Michael and Kate Bárány Award for her innovative combination of microfluidics, opto- genetics, and mechanical and elec- trical perturbations to interrogate the movements of single proteins and membranes in neurons. Taekjip Ha , Johns Hopkins Uni- versity, will receive the Kazuhiko Kinosita Award in Single-Molecule Biophysics for his leadership in the development of single-molecule techniques and their application to nucleic acid processing enzymes

and particularly for his efforts to elevate an apprecia- tion of single-molecule studies among scientists in general.


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Biophysicist in Profile

Molly Cule

Public Affairs Publications

From the BPS Blog

Biophysical Society

Grants and Opportunities

Members in the News



Annual Meeting

Upcoming Events





Biophysicist in Profile RAM DIXIT


Officers President Lukas Tamm President-Elect Angela Gronenborn Past-President Suzanne Scarlata Secretary Frances Separovic Treasurer Kalina Hristova Council

“I found science interesting throughout school, but it was my high school science teacher, Ms. Bose , who really got me into biology,” says Ram Dixit , associate professor of biology and faculty fellow of the Center for Engineering Mechanobiology at Washington University in St. Louis. “The instrument that captivated my interest was a microscope, and I was fascinated by the frantic activities that seemingly simple organisms, like microbes displayed under the microscope.” Dixit’s father, an engineer, taught him the importance of science and quantitative thinking. “Even though he was an engineer by training, he had broad scientific interests and helped me cultivate my interest in biology,” he shares. He started his undergraduate degree in microbiology at Ruia College in Mumbai, India, where he had grown up. It was here that Dixit was introduced to research by his professor Ravi Phadke : “I spent a year doing research ‘on the side’ and realized that one could make a living as a researcher!” He then transferred to State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he completed his bachelor of science degree in biochemistry in 1993. Dixit entered Cornell University to pursue his PhD in biology. As a graduate student, he hosted Richard Cyr as a student-invited seminar speaker, which set him on a path toward his current area of specializa- tion. “I was fascinated by his talk about how mechanical forces influence microtubule orientation in cells,” he shares. “His talk got me started on thinking about how nanoscale polymers organize into a rich variety of patterns to produce cell shape and orchestrate cellular processes.” After completing his PhD studies in 2000, Dixit worked as a postdoc- toral fellow in Cyr’s lab at Pennsylvania State University, examining how noncentrosomal plant cortical microtubules organize into well-ordered arrays. “Using GFP technology and live-imaging, I quantified micro- tubule dynamics and behavior and uncovered rules of interactions that

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

Ram Dixit

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

“ As scientists, we are not trained to manage people and finances, yet this is precisely what this job demands most. ”

lead to their self-organization using computer modeling,” he explains. From there, he went to University of Pennsylvania for a second postdoc position with Erika Holzbaur . “I used single-molecule biophysics in collaboration with Yale Goldman to study how kinesin and dynein respond to obstacles in their path and

Caitlin Simpson Elizabeth Vuong Ellen Weiss Production Ray Wolfe Catie Curry

to elucidate the mechanism for plus-end tracking of human EB1 and CLIP170 proteins,” he says. Goldman fondly recalls working with Dixit during that time, “Ram was always very calm and exuded competence. His experiments were successful virtually 100 percent of the time, because he was so careful. Erika said of one of his data video stacks from our 2008 Science paper, ‘That’s going to win an Academy Award!’” Currently,

The Biophysical Society Newsletter (ISSN 0006-3495) is published eleven times per year, January-December, by the Biophysical Society, 5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Distributed to USA members and other countries at no cost. Canadian GST No. 898477062. Postmaster: Send address changes to Biophysical Society, 5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110, Rockville, MD

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These days, achieving work-life balance is still the most challeng- ing aspect of his career. When he does have leisure time, Dixit enjoys reading, cooking, and practicing taekwondo, which he does with his son. He admires and enjoys the work of Aldous Huxley — best known for his 1932 novel Brave

the two are collaborating again after obtaining a National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center grant between University of Pennsylvania and Washington University. “We are working together on a microtubule-associated pro- tein (MAP) in plants, termed MAP65,” Goldman says. “We are doing the specialized fluorescence labeling and his colleague Matthew Lew will do sophisticated orientation-sensitive microscopy on the MAP-microtubule interaction.” “My postdoctoral work on the cytoskeleton steered me into combining cell biology and biophysics,” Dixit shares. Now, in his lab at Washington Uni- versity, he has done just that. “We use a combi- nation of genetics, cell biology, single-molecule biophysics, and computational modeling to study how multiple microtubule-associated proteins work together to shape the architecture of the mi- crotubule cytoskeleton. We are also interested in force-generating mechanisms within cells and how cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli,” he says. “Currently, I am most excited about how mechanical stimuli affect molecular and cellular processes. I hope that our work under the aus- pices of the NSF-funded Center for Engineering Mechanobiology will elucidate how plants and animals sense and respond to mechanical perturba- tions at the molecular and cellular scales. My lab is particularly interested in understanding the role of the cytoskeleton in mechanosensing and mechano- transduction.” Getting his independent laboratory started and fully operational nearly ten years ago — while exciting — proved challenging, and made for a busy and stressful few years. “As scientists, we are not trained to manage people and finances, yet this is precisely what this job demands most. I was able to cope because of a lot of help from my fam- ily and mentors,” he says. “Watching my bench time shrink precipitously was also difficult for me. Thankfully, I was still able to do microscopy, which helped me stay sane and feel productive.”

Dixit in the lab.

New World — whose books he has read for many years. “He was a true visionary, a great writer and philosopher,” he says. “I was hooked on his books since my school days! They are very much relevant to our current times.” Dixit joined the society in 2011. “The Biophysical Society connects me to the wider biophysics com- munity, which helps me to learn about the most exciting current questions and about the latest tools and techniques,” he says. “I have particu- larly enjoyed being an editorial board member for Biophysical Journal . It allowed me to contribute to advancing my field and also boosted my career as a junior scientist.” “ Work on problems that truly excite you, because only then will you stay motivated when the going gets tough. ” Dixit advises early career scientists, “Work on problems that truly excite you, because only then will you stay motivated when the going gets tough. Find your niche where you can make an impact and seek out good collaborations that can enrich your research and provide you with a support network.”

Profilee-at-a-Glance Institution Washington University in St. Louis Area of Research Mechanisms underlying microtubule cytoskeleton dynamics and organization





Public Affairs

sity of Mississippi, reported that he is running for Congress in the 1st district of Mississippi. Eric Jakobsson , Professor Emeritus at the Universi- ty of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reported that he has served on the Urbana City Council for the past six years and was just re-elected for another four-year term in April 2017. Wadkins and Jako- bsson’s interest in policy is not new — both serve on the BPS Public Affairs Committee and Wad- kins was also the Society’s 2016–17 congressional fellow. Jakobsson also is a very active advocate for science at the national level. BPS Congressional District Visits This summer the Biophysical Society launched the inaugural Congressional District Visits Program, to encourage and assist BPS members in con- necting with their US senators and representa- tives during the congressional recess in August. Twenty-six members signed up to participate. The participants were provided with contact information, talking points, and during a webinar, heard directly from BPS congressional fellows about how to make the most of a Congressional meeting. The Society encourages members to develop rela- tionships with policymakers year round, wherever you may reside. The Society office is here to help; start by visiting to the BPS advocacy toolkit at kit/tabid/7444/Default.aspx, which includes the webinar referenced above.

Raise the Caps Take Two On September 6, the Biophysical Society partici- pated in a Raise the Caps event coordinated by NDD United, of which the BPS is a member. Baseball caps with the phrase “Raise the Caps” printed on the front were distributed by hand to all 535 congressional offices, along with the message that it is necessary for Congress to work together to raise the spending limits imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Based on the appropriations bills currently moving through the House and Senate at the beginning of September, if the caps are not raised, sequestration will take effect. Congress should avoid making further reductions in these programs and work to replace the scheduled sequestration cuts through a pack- age that is balanced — both in how such relief is paid for and how it is applied to defense and nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs. In addition to the distribution of caps, a press conference was held and BPS members were asked to contact their representatives and senators to ask them to raise the spending caps. BPS Members Look to Make Their Mark in Office With so few scientists represented in the current Congress, there has been a push to get more scien- tists to run for public office. The Society put out a call in the June newsletter to find out if any BPS members were running for an office at the local, state, or national level. Randy Wadkins , Univer-

Apply to be the 2018-2019 BPS Congressional Fellow! Are you interested in working on Capitol Hill and learning more about science policy?

All members who have obtained their PhD and are eligible to work in the United States may apply.

Application deadline: December 15, 2017

Visit for additional information.





March for Science in India On August 9, thousands of scientists marched in over 25 cities across India. Stemming from the Global March for Science in April, the march aimed to promote the importance of science and pressure the Indian government to increase funding for scientific and technological research. India’s Prime Minister has acknowledged the importance of scientific research in the past, hoping that by 2030 India will be among the top three countries leading in science and technology. Yet Indian scientists are frustrated by the lack of action. The march organizers are demanding scientific funding be increased from less than one percent to three percent of the annual budget and they want to see policies built on scientific data. Be a BPS Student Leader Set Up A Student Chapter The Biophysical Society is excited to launch the BPS Student Chapter program. This program aims to build active student chapters around the globe, increase student membership and participation within the Society, and promote biophysics as a discipline across college campuses through activities organized by the chapters. Chapters may be formed within a single institution, or regional chapters may be developed among multiple, neighboring institutions. Chapters wishing to be recognized starting in the spring semester of 2018 must submit the Endorsement and Petition Form, Chapter Bylaws, and the Chapter Information Sheet to the Soci- ety Office via email to by November 1, 2017, for consideration. For more information and a complete list of instructions on forming an official BPS Student Chapter, please visit

Is it what you study? How you study it? Or, you just know it when you see it? Even among biophysicists there does not seem to be agreement. Thus, to show the world just how amazing and diverse biophysics research is, we are collecting stories — from you! Make the video alone, or with colleagues and lab mates. Your choice. Send us a 45-second video explaining your biophysics to a general audience. We also encourage you to share them via social media on the Society’s pages as well as on yours with the hashtag #mybiophysics. We will use these videos during Biophysics Week to demonstrate just how amazing biophysics — and biophysicists — are! To view a sample, visit





Publications BJ – Know the Editors Elsa Yan Yale University

vibrational spectra can be used similarly to circular dichroism spectra for characterization of protein secondary structures. The observed vibrational spectra are generated from protein backbone without the use of spectroscopic labels. The spectra are obtained using chiral sum frequency generation spectroscopy. This nonlinear vibra- tional spectroscopy is sensitive only to molecules at interfaces but not molecules in bulk solution. Hence, the vibrational signals are not interfered by background signals of solvent and other solute molecules in solution. Moreover, the signals provide information about orientation of proteins at interfaces. Therefore, the discovery has implica- tions in addressing problems related to proteins at interfaces. For example, my group has used the spectroscopic method to monitor aggregation of an amyloid protein on a membrane surface and observed conformational changes of the protein from disordered structures to alpha-helix and then beta-sheet. Other biophysicists have started using these vibrational signatures to tackle fundamental problems, including protein folding at inter- faces and ultrafast dynamics of energy propaga- tion along protein backbones. These vibrational signals can potentially be used in other areas, such as characterizations and design of biosensors, engineering of protein surfaces, and functional studies of membrane proteins (e.g., immunologi- cal response, cell adhesion, and transmembrane molecular transport). Congratulations to Four Young Investigators The Biophysical Journal sponsors awards for deserving students and postdocs who present post- ers at the Biophysical Society thematic meetings. Congratulations to four young investigators who were recognized for their science and presentation of their posters at the August 2017 meeting, Con- formational Ensembles from Experimental Data and Computer Simulations . Each received a certificate and $250.00.

Editor, Cell Biophysics

Elsa Yan

Q. What have you read lately that you found really interesting or stimulating? (a paper, a book, science or not science) Recently, I have been reading research articles related to proteins that can be found in biofilms. These types of proteins are considered to be Janus particles. Each of these proteins has a hydrophobic domain and a hydrophilic domain. Thus, they are strongly amphiphilic and surface-active. In their 2013 article in PNAS, Hobley et al. presented a striking image of a representative member of these proteins — biofilm surface layer protein A (BslA). To take the image, they ejected a droplet of BslA aqueous solution (40 microliter) into an oil phase and then reduced the volume of the droplet (by 5 microliter). The image shows the droplet of BslA solution before and after reduction of volume, where a spherical droplet becomes a drop shape (with a pointy end in its upper side) with a win- kled surface. The winkled surface looks like a plas- tic shopping bag holding a few liters of water in it. The image vividly demonstrates that BslA self- assembles into robust membrane-like structure at the water-oil interface and this structure can with- hold strong mechanical force. This fascinating image has prompted me to ponder how beautiful and delicate the molecular mechanism could be behind the formation of such sturdy macroscopic structures by individual protein molecules. Q. What has been your most exciting discovery as a biophysicist? My most exciting discovery as a biophysicist is to find that various protein secondary structures give signature nonlinear vibrational spectra. These





Students Nicole Erlenbach, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany Conformational Dynamics of Nucleic Acids by Orientation Selective PELDOR Jasdeep Singh, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India Mechanistic Insights into Modulation of Amyloid Pathways by DNA Intercalator

Postdocs Falk Hoffman, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany Closing the Gap between NMR Relax- ation and Molecular Dynamics Simula- tions of Methyl Dynamics in Proteins Yani Zhao, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland Structural Changes in LTP1 Isoforms from Beer at Air-Water Interfaces

From left to right: Nicole Erlenbach, Falk Hoffman, Yani Zhao. Jasdeep Singh is not pictured.

BPS Advisory Board Shapes eBooks Program The BPS-IOP Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) recently held their second in-person meeting to discuss furthering the new ebooks program. BPS and IOP Publishing entered into a partnership earlier this year to create a library of ebooks for the biophysics community. Books will range from short monographs, manuals and handbooks, to reviews, textbooks, and longer monographs. The initial role of the Editorial Advisory Board is to define the aims and scope of the collection, including subject coverage, types and level of publications. The ebooks EAB guides the direc- tion and growth of the book collection and builds a list of target topics, book titles, and authors for the commissioning editor to act upon. Using their subject knowledge, contacts, and understanding of the needs of the biophysics community, members of the EAB also play a key role in evaluating book proposals.

For more about this program, visit http://ioppub-

BPS-IOP Editorial Advisory Board Geoffrey Winston Abbott , University of California ,Irvine

Mibel Aguilar , Monash University, Australia Cynthia Czajkowski , University of Wisconsin Miriam Goodman , Stanford University Kathleen Hall , Washington University in Saint Louis Joe Howard , Yale University Meyer Jackson , University of Wisconsin Andrea Meredith , University of Maryland Dave Piston , Washington University in Saint Louis Les Satin , University of Michigan Jim Sellers , NIH

David Sept , University of Michigan Da-Neng Wang , New York University

All Books Start with an Idea Do you have an idea for a book in biophysics? We’d like to hear from you. The BPS-IOP program aims to build a comprehensive library in biophysics and all ideas will be given consideration. Have you thought about writing a book but find the idea daunting? We want to hear from you. The BPS-IOP ebooks program offers numerous resources as well as personal help and guidance to assist you. All it takes is an email. Contact





Members in the News

Alicia Alonso , Instituto Biofisika UPV/ EHU and Society member since 2015, was awarded the Bruker Prize from the Spanish Biophysical Society.

Rengasayee Veeraraghavan , Virginia Tech and Society member since 2010, received the George Palade Award from the Micros- copy Society of America.

Alicia Alonso

Rengasayee Veeraraghavan

Maria Queralt-Martin , National Insti- tutes of Health and Society member since 2010, received the Alta-Genics - SBE-33 Prize from the Spanish Bio- physical Society. David W. Piston , Washington Univer- sity in St. Louis and Society member since 1996, was recognized by the Microscopy Society of America with the Distinguished Scientist Award in the Biological Sciences. Christopher Russo , MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Society member since 2015, was awarded the Burton Medal from the Microscopy Society of America.

Peter Schuck , National Institutes of Health and Society member since 1997, was awarded the James J. Christensen Memorial Award from the Calorimetry Conference.

Maria Queralt- Martin

Peter Schuck

Julian Schroeder , University of California, San Diego and Society member since 1990, was elected to Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences.

David W. Piston

Julian Schroeder

Christopher Russo

BPS members elected to officer positions in IUPAB:

The following members were elected to IUPAB's Council: Erick J. Dufourc , CNRS (France) and Society member since 1996 Hans-Joachim Galla , University of Munster and Society member since 2000 R. Daniel Peluffo , University of the Republic, Uruguay and Society member since 1995 Peter Pohl , Johannes Kepler University and Society mem- ber since 1994 Frances Separovic , University of Melbourne and Society member since 1985 Bryan Trevor Sewell , University of Cape Town and Society member since 2009 Giuseppe Zucchelli , Istituto di Biofisica, Consiglio Nazio- nale delle Ricerche and Society member since 2008.

Manuel Prieto , Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidad de Lisboa and Society member since 1991, was elected President-Elect.

Manuel Prieto

Juan C. Gomez-Fernandez , University of Murcia and Society member since 1999, was elected Secretary-General.

Juan C. Gomez- Fernandez

John Baenziger , University of Ottawa and Society member since 1990, was elected Treasurer.

John Baenziger





The focus on mathematical and biophysical models coupled with experiments sets this meeting apart from cardiological and biological meetings. The meeting will be highly interdisciplinary with contributions from medi- cine, biology, physics, bioengineering, and mathematics. Specifically, topics will include: • Cell level: modelling of excitation contraction cou- pling, sarcomere models, metabolic modelling, ROS signalling, spatially resolved models, and subcellular structures; Hemodynamics: flow in atria and ventricles, aortic flow, valve stenosis replacement, stenting; • Organ level: Electrophysiology, mechanics, total heart function, personalization; • Modelling diseases: arrhythmia, antitachypacing and defibrillation, Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy. nucleic-acid and chromatin structures having poten- tial roles in genome regulation.

Organizing Committee: Martin Falcke , Max Delbruck Center Berlin, Germany Gernot Plank , Medical University of Graz, Austria Zhilin Qu , University of California, Los Angeles, USA Karin Sipido , University of Leuven, Belgium James Weiss , University of California, Los Angeles, USA Abstract Deadline: May 7, 2018 Early Registration Deadline: June 4, 2018 2018Berlin





Student Opportunities

Thank you to our sponsors: AAT Bioquest Allen Institute for Cell Science ALVEOLE Asylum Research, an Oxford Instruments Company Bruker Corporation Burroughs Wellcome Fund Carl Zeiss Microscopy Cell Press Cellular Dynamics International Dynamic Biosensors GmbH FUJIFILM Dimatix Inc HORIBA Scientific Journal of General Physiology KinTek Corporation LUMICKS Mad City Labs MDPI Molecular Devices Nanion Technologies GmbH Pall Fortebio Photonics Media Physics Today Princeton University Press

Are you a student planning to attend the San Francisco Annual Meeting, or are you a faculty member planning to bring your students to the meeting? There are several sessions planned throughout the meet- ing to provide graduate and undergraduate students with opportunities to network with faculty members and other students from around the world and to explore a variety of career paths after graduation.

and questions, and develop a biophysics career path. The breakfast will also include a panel discussion on academic and career paths in biophysics, with oppor- tunities for questions and answers from the audience. Come prepared to find out about the course of study that aspiring biophysicists undertake, what it means to be a biophysicist, and how biophysicists make important discoveries.

Undergraduate Student Mixer and Poster Award Competition Saturday, February 17, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

If you’re an undergraduate student, plan on attend- ing this social and scientific mixer! Come meet other undergraduates and learn about their research projects. For those undergraduate students who will be present- ing during the standard scientific sessions, the mixer is an opportunity to hone skills before the general poster sessions begin. Undergraduates listed as co-authors on posters are welcome to practice their poster presentation skills in a less formal setting, even if not listed as the presenting author. Additionally, undergrads presenting as first or second author on a poster may participate in the Undergraduate Poster Award Competition. Three students will be selected for a $100 award, and also receive recognition prior to the 2018 National Lecture. Winners will be selected based on the quality and scien- tific merit of their research, knowledge of the research problem, contribution to the project, and overall presen- tation of the poster. Pre-registration is required to participate. Details are available on the Annual Meeting website. Undergraduate Student Pizza “Breakfast” Sunday, February 18, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Undergrads – plan to attend this unique networking event! This session will serve as a valuable network- ing and social opportunity to meet other students and Education Committee members, discuss academic goals

Colleges in the Community Day Sunday, February 18, 11:30 AM –5:00 PM

This free day for San Francisco Bay Area college stu- dents at the BPS 62nd Annual Meeting kicks off with an Undergraduate Student Pizza “Breakfast” where participants will have an opportunity to network with their peers and members of the Biophysical Society’s Education Committee in a fun and relaxed environ- ment. Students will also receive information and advice on how to get the most out of attending the Annual Meeting. Attendees will be permitted to attend any of the meetings open sessions and activities for the full day, including the Graduate & Postdoc Institution Fair where they can meet with representatives of, and learn about, programs from all over the country. Local under- graduate students, and their PI’s, residing within a 25- mile radius of the San Francisco who are not presenting an abstract or listed on an abstract being presented at this meeting may register for this event and gain FREE access to all Annual Meeting sessions on Sunday, Febru- ary 18, 2018. Registration is required for both students and their PI’s. Register by Monday, January 15, 2018. There will be no on-site registration for this event. Registration details are available on the Annual Meeting website.

Sutter Instrument Wyatt Technology





Fueling Discovery through Biophysics

— Vidhya Sivakumaran “ The Society has so many different opportunities for personal development skills, as well as career workshops and networking events specifically formulated for students to meet peers and discuss issues, ask questions, and make their own mark on the Society. ” Call for Future of Biophysics Symposium Speakers Know a young researcher doing cutting-edge research at the interface of the physical and life sciences? The Biophysical Society is seeking suggestions from you for speakers to be featured in the special Future of Biophysics Burroughs Wellcome Fund Symposium in San Francisco. If you have a colleague who may be suitable for a nomination, visit and complete the required information fields by October 26, 2017 . Student Volunteers The Biophysical Society invites undergraduate and gradu- ate students to volunteer time at the Annual Meeting in exchange for complimentary meeting registration. Volun- teers must be Society members with registration fully paid, and must be willing to volunteer for six hours during the meeting. To apply, please send an email to meetings@ by December 15, 2017, with the following information: full name, cell phone number, and complete list of dates/times available. Those selected will have their registration refunded after the meeting.

Student members can take advantage of reduced meeting registration and membership rates. Have your students submit an abstract and join the Biophysical Society today!

Graduate and Postdoc Institution Fair Sunday, February 18, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Are you thinking about grad school or starting to look for a postdoc position? Attend the Graduate and Postdoc Institution Fair to meet with representatives from several institutions with biophysics programs who will be on hand to answer questions, distribute lit- erature, and discuss opportunities for students and postdocs. Don’t miss this unique and convenient opportunity to learn more and get the information you need! Graduate Student Breakfast Monday, February 19, 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM Graduate students: do not miss a great opportunity to network with your peers at this breakfast session! Members of the Early Ca- reers Committee will share information and answer questions about resources available to you, and how the committee serves graduate students in the biophysical community. Undergraduate Student Lounge Looking for a quiet space to study? Want to meet other undergrad- uate attendees? Be sure to swing by the Undergraduate Student Lounge, reserved specifically for undergraduate students to do classwork and make connections. The lounge is open throughout the meeting, and WiFi will be available. Student Housing Deadline: December 3 Affordable housing is available for undergraduate and graduate student attendees who are current Society members. To secure student housing, visit the Annual Meeting website. 2018meeting





Molly Cule

Dear Dr. Cule, I am a senior postdoc, just entering the job market. I’m beginning the application process for academic positions, and I’ve started to hear that, in addition to a seminar on my postdoctoral work, some departments ask for something called a “chalk talk.” I’ve never heard of this. What is a chalk talk? Do I need to bring my own chalk? Powdery Hands Dear Powdery Hands, A chalk talk, while not universal, can be an impor- tant part of the interview process for an academic position. In essence, where your job seminar will describe the work you’ve done in your postdoc lab, the chalk talk is an opportunity for depart- ment members to learn about your plans for getting your own lab off the ground and for the department to learn more about how you think as a scientist. In my experience, the audience for a chalk talk is smaller, consisting mostly of the facul- ty in the department interviewing you (and maybe a few people close to your field from other depart- ments). This helps explain the mystery, as few postdocs have ever been to a chalk talk or heard one! The chalk talk is usually much more free flowing and interactive then a traditional seminar. Faculty frequently interrupt with questions, not only about the science, but also about the practi- cal aspects of what you are proposing. How will you get the work funded? Who will you get to work on this? How will you avoid competing with your former lab? This is an opportunity to show strengths that might not be obvious in a highly structured formal seminar. The name “chalk talk” comes from the (usual) expectation that you won’t use a packaged Powerpoint show, but will rather write on a board. (Yes, I suppose that it will be a whiteboard and markers these days, but the name sticks anyway.)

Despite its open-endedness, it is extremely im- portant to think carefully about the content and structure of the chalk talk. A useful organizational structure is to think of what might be the three aims of your first R01 grant proposal, and con- sider these as headings for three sections of your presentation. Here’s your chance to really show how deeply you’ve thought about your plans; what will surely work, what is more risky (but worth it because it’s so important), etc. Most postdocs have not extensively used boards (chalk or white) for presentation — think ahead about what you will write and draw where and the overall appearance of your scrawlings; think about what writings need to stay up during the whole talk and what can be erased. Think strategically also as you progress through the talk. With frequent interruptions for questions it is critical to balance the time you spend going off track to answer questions with the need to return to your core presentation to present your own ideas. If you find a line of questions is leading you too far away from your focus, politely remind the audience that you have a lot of mate- rial to get through, then return to your outline. In our department, we offer postdocs like you the chance to do a practice chalk talk with three or four faculty members, who simulate the real thing. I strongly recommend that you find some experienced faculty who are willing to do this with you. A well-executed chalk talk can be challenging but fun and is a great way to present yourself in a more spontaneous way than the traditional semi- nar. Finally, the hosting department typically sup- plies the chalk — if it doesn’t, this may portend bad things regarding your start-up package. Good luck on the job search! — Molly Cule

The 2017 Annual Meeting attendees came from 39 different countries. Numbers By the





From the BPS Blog

Grants and Opportunities i i

Highlighting Biophysics Research During Sickle Cell Awareness Month September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month in the United States. Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects approximately 100,000 Americans and millions worldwide. To recognize the awareness month, we spoke with BPS member George Em Karniadakis , Brown University, and his collaborators Xuejin Li , Brown University, and Ming Dao , MIT, about their research related to sickle cell disease. Read the post here: https://biophysicalsociety. ics-research-during-sickle-cell-awareness-month/.

Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences: Investigator-initiated Research Projects Objective: The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB), National Science Founda- tion, is soliciting proposals for hypothesis-driven and discovery research and related activities in four core clusters: molecular biophysics, cellular dynamics and function, genetic mechanisms, systems and synthetic biology.

Deadline: November 15, 2017

Website: nsf17589/nsf17589.htm

Exploratory Grant Award to Promote Work- force Diversity in Basic Cancer Research Objective: To provide opportunities for new in- vestigators from underrepresented backgrounds who have entered the research pipeline. Who May Apply: Individuals from underrepre- sented racial and ethnic groups; individual with disabilities; and individuals from socially, cultural- ly, economically, or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds that have inhibited their ability to pursue a career in health-related research. Institutions are encouraged to identify candi- dates who will increase diversity on a national or institutional basis.

Communicating Your Science to Non-Scientists

November 14, 2:00 pm EST Presenter: Alaina G. Levine

Biophysical Society Members: FREE Non-members: $15

Deadline: December 1, 2017

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IDP IDPs in Focus: Neurotransmitter Release The Intrinsically Disordered Protein (IDP) Subgroup focuses broadly on proteins that lack a stable 3D structure in their native state. The study of such proteins presents unique technical and conceptual challenges, which unite the subgroup. While once controversial, IDPs are now recog- nized as fundamentally important to biology. In particular, IDPs are frequently found in signal transduction pathways where their dynamic na- ture enables nuanced regulation of their activity. Neurotransmitter signaling involves the release of chemical neurotransmitters that are stored within synaptic vesicles. As such, their release requires the fusion of vesicles with the neuronal plasma membrane. Twenty years ago, Fasshauer and coworkers demonstrated that membrane fusion is catalyzed by a disorder-to-order transition in the SNARE (Soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion protein Attachment protein REceptor) proteins (Fasshauer 1997). Three SNARE pro- teins — two in the plasma membrane and one in the vesicle membrane — are largely disordered in isolation. However, these proteins bind together to form a four-helix bundle (Sutton 1998) with such extraordinary stability that disassembly requires an ATP-dependent chaperone in vivo (Sollner 1993). Experiments using NMR showed that SNARE protein assembly was directional, be- ginning at the N-terminus and proceeding to the C-terminal membrane anchors (Fiebig 1999). The folding of the complex brings the synaptic vesicle close to the plasma membrane wherein fusion is triggered. While the SNARE proteins begin in separate membranes, the SNARE complex ends up residing in the same membrane. Using optical tweezers, the energy liberated by the disorder- to-order transition has been estimated to be as high as 68 kBT (Ma 2015), which is one of the highest protein folding energies reported. Thus, neurotransmitter release is completely dependent on this family of IDPs.

References Fasshauer, D., H. Otto, W. K. Eliason, R. Jahn, and A. T. Brunger (1997). J Biol Chem 272(44): 28036–28041. Fiebig, K. M., L. M. Rice, E. Pollock, and A. T. Brunger (1999). Nat Struct Biol 6(2): 117–123. Ma, L., A. A. Rebane, G. Yang, Z. Xi, Y. Kang, Y. Gao, and Y. Zhang (2015). elife 4. Sollner, T., M. K. Bennett, S. W. Whiteheart, R. H. Scheller, and J. E. Rothman (1993). Cell 75(3): 409–418. Sutton, R. B., D. Fasshauer, R. Jahn, and A. T. Brunger (1998). Nature 395(6700): 347–353. The IDP Subgroup would like to bring the fol- lowing event to the attention of those with an interest in Intrinsically Disorder Proteins. Next spring (May 14–17, 2018), The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) will host a Symposium entitled Cellular Mechanisms Driven by Liquid Phase Separation. Liquid phase separation is emerging as a common biophysical basis underlying many important cel- lular functions and is frequently linked to IDPs. This conference will bring together scientists from soft matter polymer physics, molecular “un” structural biologists, cell biologists, and develop- mental biologists to shed light on the fascinating phenomena of phase separation in biology. To learn more, visit https://www.embo-embl-sympo- Liquid Phase Penaration Symposium

Membrane Biophysics Call for Nominations

The Membrane Biophysics Subgroup is solicit- ing nominations for the 2018 Kenneth S. Cole Award. This is an annual award, given to an inves- tigator who has made a substantial contribution





to the understanding of membrane biophysics. The award will be presented at the subgroup din- ner following the Saturday afternoon symposium at the 2018 Annual Meeting, February 17, in San Francisco. Any member of the Membrane Bio- physics Subgroup may be a nominator. The recipient will be determined by a selection committee made up of the five officers of the subgroup. Nominations should contain a brief statement summarizing the qualifications of the nominee and a CV. The deadline for nominations is October 27, 2017. Please email nominations to subgroup Secretary-Treasurer Matt Trudeau (mtrudeau@ Motility and Cytoskeleton The mission of the Motility and Cytoskeleton Subgroup is to understand the basic mechanisms that underlie motility and contractility of biologi- cal systems. These processes are ultimately the result of molecular motors and/or contractile filaments that convert chemical energy stored in ATP/GTP into mechanical energy that drives, for example, cell motility, cytokinesis, and muscle contraction. The structure and function of the myosin, kinesin, and dynein motor families and the cytoskeletal filaments F-actin and microtubules are frequent topics subgroup symposia. Areas of focus also include the regulatory proteins that con-

trol the activity of motors and the cytoskeleton. The following excellent scientists will be speaking at the Motility and Cytoskeleton Subgroup Sym- posium, February 17, at the 2018 BPS Annual Meeting in San Francisco: Gregory Alushin, Rockefeller University; Tim Clausen, Research Institute of Molecular Pathol- ogy, Austria; Etsuko Muto, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan; Weihong Qiu, Oregon State Uni- versity; Margot Quinlan, University of California, Los Angeles; Samara Reck-Peterson, University of California, San Diego; and Marija Zanic Vander- bilt University. We are also honored that Wallace Marshall University of California, San Francisco, will be giving the keynote talk. We will also have flash talks from students to highlight the posters they will present throughout the rest of the meeting. Please encourage your students to submit abstracts to the Cytoskeleton, Motility & Motors category. We will hold the subgroup business meeting during the afternoon so please contact us if there are topics you would like to discuss or if you are interested in running for election as future Subgroup Co-Chair. Re- member that your subgroup dues pay for the costs of this symposium so please renew your dues if you are a subgroup member and consider joining if you are not. We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco! —Carolyn Moores and Kristen Verhey , Subgroup Co-Chairs

Student Center Rebecca Alford

Q: What has been your favorite course while studying biophysics? Why?

My favorite biophysics course is thermodynam- ics because I can use basic physical principles to untangle complex biological processes. This is also exciting because it motivates research in protein folding and interactions.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Johns Hopkins University

Rebecca Alford

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November 5–8 The National Cancer Research Insti- tute Cancer Conference Liverpool, United Kingdom November 7–9 Klaus Schulten Memorial Symposium Urbana, IL http://schulten-symposium.beck- November 8–11 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Single Cell Analyses Oyster Bay, NY aspx?meet=SINGLE&year=17

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January 17–19 EMBL Course: Brillouin Microscopy: Emerging Tool for Probing Mechani- cal Properties of Living Cells Heidelberg, Germany events/2018/BRI18-01/index.html January 21–25 Keystone Symposia: Cell Death, Inflammation and Adaptation to Tissue Stress Breckenridge, CO https://www.keystonesymposia. org/18A6

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