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Ernest C. Pollard Lecture Set for February 13

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06 February 2017

Eva NogalesEva Nogales, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, will present the 2016/2017 Ernest C. Pollard Lecture at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, February 13, in 100 Life Sciences Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The free public lecture is titled “Molecular Visualization of the Eukaryotic Transcription Initiation Process.”

Nogales’ research is dedicated to visualizing cellular macromolecules using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) as her main experimental tool. Her research has two main focuses. She studies molecular machinery that controls gene expression during the transfer of information from DNA to RNA and then from RNA to protein, a process known as the ‘central dogma of biology.’ She also studies the interaction and dynamics of the cytoskeleton -- the structural elements of the cell -- during cell division. For this work, Nogales elegantly combines biochemistry and biophysics with state-of-the-art cryo-EM to uncover biological structures at high resolution.  Her work has lent critical insight into the understanding of microtubule dynamics, septin assembly, transcription initiation, proteasome structure, and aspects of CRISPR-mediated immunity.

During her graduate work at the Synchrotron Radiation Source in the United Kingdom, Nogales used small-angle X-ray scattering and cryo-EM to investigate the assembly of tubulin polymers -- an important element of the cytoskeleton. During her postdoctoral work, she produced the first atomic structure of tubulin using electron crystallography.

Nogales is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has received numerous awards including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director’s Award for Exceptional Science Achievement, the American Society for Cell Biology’s Keith Porter Lecture Award, the Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from the Protein Society, and the Northwestern University Distinguished Role Model in the Life Sciences.

Nogales earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain in 1988. She earned a doctoral degree in biophysics at Keele University in the United Kingdom in 1993. Nogales performed her postdoctoral research in biophysics in the Life Science Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, California from 1993 to 1995, and continued as an LBNL staff scientist until 1998. She is currently senior faculty scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrative Bioimaging Division of the LBNL. Nogales joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley as assistant professor in 1998, advancing to associate professor in 2003, and professor in 2006. She has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 2000 and is also head of the Bay Area Cyro-Electron Microscope Facility in Berkeley.

The Ernest C. Pollard Lecture is named in honor of the professor of physics who taught at Penn State from 1961 to 1971 and founded the Department of Biophysics. In 1979 the Department of Biophysics merged with the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry to form the present Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

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