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2010 Janet Andersen Lecture Award in the Biological Sciences and Psychology

Professor Sarah (Sally) C.R. Elgin has been a dedicated teacher, scholar and mentor for students from elementary school through graduate school for more than 3 decades. Sally graduated from Pomona College and earned a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1971. She spent time as a postdoc at Caltech and as a faculty member at Harvard University before joining the faculty of the Biology Department at Washington University in 1981. In addition to her appointment in biology, Dr. Elgin holds appointments as Professor of Education in Arts and Sciences, Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biophysics and Professor of Genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine.  

Dr. Elgin was the director of Washington University’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)-funded Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Program from 1992 – 2004. Accoring to the nomination leeter writen by severl of her colleagues, “We have maintained this funding and the cumulative efect of this has been profound on both curriculum and on student research.” In 2002, Sally was selected to be one of only 20 HHMI Professors and he used her million dollar grant to establish the Genomics Education Partnership (  As part of this HHMI-supported work, “She developed an upper level lab in genomics, in which students perfrom bioinformatics analysis on different species of Drosophila to understand gene organization and expression control and evolution.The data the students generate during the course contributes to our understanding of chromosome organization and gene expression, and many of these students are co-authors on published work from the project.”

Sally has spent countless hours mentoring undergraduates  conducting research projects both in and out of these courses. According to one of these undergraduates “I began the semester with limited knowledge of the bioinformatics tools available for  analyzing genomes. However, with Dr. Elgin’s mentoring, I gained a strong understanding of the work associated with assembling genome squences and annotation. By the end of the semester, I felt confident using numerous bioinformatics tools to carefully and appropriately annotate my portion of the D.grimshawi fourth chromosome.”

At Wash U, Sally has demonstrated a nearly unparallelled commitment to providing authentic, rigorous and ongoing research opportunities for K-12 students and teachers, undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members. In the late 1980’s, she created the science education partnership with an area K-12 school district. This program eventually blossomed into the University’s Science Outreach Office ( which now serves more than 20,000 students and several thousand teachers each year.  

Among many professional accomplishments and awards, she earned the 2010 Career Achievement Award from Wash U’s Office of Undergraduate Research. According to her nomination letter, “Indeed, it is largely, if not exclusively due to Sally’s efforts that we have an Office of Undergraduate Research at the university. She lobbied for years with the admonistratioon to found this office to promote undergraduate research.”

Dr. Elgin presented the Janet Andersen Lecture at the Undergraduate Research Symposium for the Biological Sciences and Psychology held at The University of Chicago on Nov 5 – 7, 2010.


 2010 Janet Andersen Lecture Award in the Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science

Professor Graham Peaslee came to Hope College in 1993 after earning an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York, Stony Brook.  Graham has a joint appointment in the Departments of Chemistry and Geoloical and Environmental Sciences (GES) at Hope College in Holland, MI.  He is currently the chair of the Chemistry Department and teaches courses in chemistry and GES nd maintains research collaborations with members of both the physics and biology departments.  Graham’s diverse research interests are all related by the use of a range of powerful analytical tools associated with the Hope College Ion Beam Analysis Laboratory. This particle accelerator facility allows Graham and his student, faculty and staff colleagues to perform quantitative elemental analysis on solid, liquid and even aerosol particulate samples.

In the nomination letter signed by six of Graham’s colleagues in the Natural and Applied Sciences Division, Professor Seymour wrote, “He is driven to help students and faculty investigate challenging interdisciplinary scientific questions using whatever resources are most appropriate for the problem at hand. For example, he has taught students how to use the particle accelerator in physics for x-ray analysis of metals in lake sediments for a geology project, another group of students have used the physics-based techniques of Rutherford backscattering to investigate the thickness of an electrochemical sensor for an analytical chemistry project and he has worked with students in the environmental science program to do classical colorimetric chemical tests for the measurement of phosphorous in local ponds. There is no doubt that Graham is a dynamic force in providing students with relevant and challenging research experiences and that he is successful in helping students develop confidence in their ability to do meaningful research.”

The letter goes on to say that “Graham provides inspiration, great ideas and proven methods for successful teaching and research in an undergraduate setting. He knows what it takes to achieve goals that have been established. Graham often makes the sports anaolgy that Hope is a D-III school with a D-I research program. This is in large part due to the imapct that he has not only on the students he works with, but also on the faculty colleagues with whom he works.“

Dr. Peaslee presented the Janet Andersen Lecture at the Undergraduate Research Symposium for the Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science held in St. Louis at Washington University on Nov 12 – 14, 2010.