Award

Kraft ‘has changed our understanding of lipid organization’

She won ASBMB's Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research
Shaila Kotadia
By Shaila Kotadia
March 1, 2014

Mary Kraft, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is the winner of this year’s American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator in Lipid Research award.

Mary Kraft

"I’m honored to receive the Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research for my lab’s work on lipid organization in the plasma membrane. I’m especially grateful to my students, collaborators, colleagues, the ASBMB and Walter A. Shaw for making this possible."

—MARY KRAFT


Established by the ASBMB’s Lipid Research Division and named after the founder of Avanti Polar Lipids, the award recognizes outstanding research contributions by investigators with 10 or fewer years of experience.
 
Kraft’s colleague at UIUC, Jonathan Sweedler, said that Kraft’s work “has changed our understanding of lipid organization within the cellular plasma membrane and the mechanisms that produce it.”
 
Kraft devised a novel method for imaging using high-resolution secondary ion mass spectrometry in conjunction with metabolic isotope labeling, which opened an unexpected new view of lipid composition in the cellular plasma membrane. One key finding demonstrated that cholesterol is not enriched in sphingolipid domains but rather evenly distributed throughout the cell membrane.
 
Kraft is continuing her excellent efforts, said Bill Bement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who supported Kraft’s nomination for the award: “I cannot think of anyone who is better suited to this award, aimed as it is at young researchers who have not only attained prominence but also hold considerable promise for future work.”
 
Kraft started her career as a cooperative education student at the Nalco Chemical Company and completed her graduate work at UIUC. She took a four-year hiatus from the Midwest to do her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, where she was willing to try what many other researchers could not achieve.
 
Her postdoctoral adviser, Steven Boxer, explained: “Everything she was doing was new. There is little precedent for the application of the method to any soft material, let alone biological membranes, and the consensus was that it would be impossible to pull off.” Kraft overcame those obstacles and established the high-resolution SIMS technique for lipid membranes. Kraft soon returned to UIUC for an assistant professor position.
 
Kraft not only has excelled in the laboratory but also in the classroom and in advising, receiving multiple awards from her institution for her attentiveness to student needs.
 
She will receive her award at the 2014 ASBMB annual meeting in San Diego, where she will give a presentation. The presentation will take place at 3:45 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in Room 6C of the San Diego Convention Center.

Shaila Kotadia
Shaila Kotadia

Shaila Kotadia is the education and outreach manager. Sabriya N. Rosemond is the diversity fellow for the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center. Both co-organized the Expanding Potential workshop.

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in People

People highlights or most popular articles

Share your aha moments!
Editor's Note

Share your aha moments!

May 4, 2021

How a brainstorming session produced two videos, an essay contest and gratitude.

Winners of the ‘aha moments’ essay contest
Contest

Winners of the ‘aha moments’ essay contest

May 4, 2021

To celebrate our three journals going open access, we invited readers to share their moments of discovery in science. Here are the first, second and third place winners.

Stoddard wins mentoring award; Do honored as scholar–athlete
Member News

Stoddard wins mentoring award; Do honored as scholar–athlete

May 3, 2021

Awards, promotions, milestones and more. Find out what's going on in the lives of ASBMB members.

ASBMB welcomes new members
Member News

ASBMB welcomes new members

May 3, 2021

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology welcomed more than 340 new members in January.

The 17th-century cloth merchant who discovered the vast realm of tiny microbes
News

The 17th-century cloth merchant who discovered the vast realm of tiny microbes

May 2, 2021

Although untrained in science, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek became the greatest lens-maker of his day, discovered microscopic life forms and is known today as the “father of microbiology.”

Meet Efraín E. Rivera–Serrano
Jobs

Meet Efraín E. Rivera–Serrano

April 30, 2021

Careers columnist Martina G. Efeyini talked to Efraín E. Rivera–Serrano to learn how he made the switch from having one academic job to having several science communication jobs.