Speaker Highlight: Marlene Belfort
Marlene Belfort is a Distinguished Professor at SUNY Albany. She will be speaking about Work-Life balance for researchers at the ORI Quest for Research Excellence 2012 Conference. She will present "Work-Life Balance, Domestic Equilibrium and Research Excellence" on Thursday, March 15th at 8am.
Dr. Belfort has demonstrated commitment to women in science through mentorship, advocacy, and setting an example through her own scientific and professional achievement. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, her scientific contributions include the 1984 description of a self-splicing intron in bacteriophage T4. She followed up with a detailed analysis of the splicing mechanism, the structure of the RNA, mutational analysis, and study of this class of intron among related phages. Dr. Belfort’s demonstration that the introns are mobile and later comparison of the endonuclease encoded by and involved in intron movement has stimulated debate over evolutionary origins. More recently, her work has led to the development of a model for the mechanism of intron evolution that is not only applicable to prokaryotes, but may shed light on vertebrate genes as well.
Dr. Belfort has proven exceptionally dedicated to teaching, training, and professional service. Her laboratory has welcomed high school students, and Dr. Belfort’s mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students, technicians, postdocs, and junior faculty members has inspired a new generation of scientists to aim high. She has served an impressive list of advisory boards and study sections and has organized international conferences on nucleic acids, RNA splicing, and evolution and nucleic acid enzymes. Current editorial board service includes Mobile DNA, Journal of Molecular Biology, and Nucleic Acids Research.
In addition to serving as a scientific and professional role model and mentor, Dr. Belfort has addressed issues facing women in science, including persistent gender inequality and the ongoing struggle to balance the demands of work and family. In taking a stance on the "win-win potential for motherhood and science," Dr. Belfort has expressed her views in a manner typical of both her high standards and encouraging manner. She was awarded the ASM Alice Evans Award, which recognizes contributions toward the participation and advancement of women in microbiology.