2023 voter guide
It's election season at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. We invite you to read statements from each of our candidates below. Find out more about them and vote here.
Voting ends July 28.
Candidates for president-elect
ASBMB is governed by an elected Council that is led by the president. The elected person serves for one year as president-elect, two years as president and one year as past-president.
Select one candidate in this race.
Joan Weliky Conaway
Professor, vice provost and dean of basic research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Statement of interest: I’ve been an ASBMB member since the late 1980s and have benefited from society activities through regular participation in the ASBMB Annual Meeting, small meetings and conferences, and as a reader, author and member of the editorial team for ASBMB journals. In short, the ASBMB has been an important part of my scientific and professional life.
I would welcome the opportunity to work with ASBMB’s Council, committee members, staff, and leadership to grow and sustain the society through initiatives to enhance recruitment of the next generation of its members and support its journals, meetings, educational and professional development, scientific outreach and other programs.
With past service as an ASBMB Council member, member and chair of the Meetings Committee, Finance Committee member, and, most recently, treasurer, I believe I am well positioned to help the society meet its challenges and seize opportunities as we transition to the new world of open access publishing and independent annual meetings.
Fellow, University of Maryland, Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, and associate professor, Fischell Department of Bioengineering
Statement of interest: ASBMB is a distinguished, forward-thinking, innovative organization, led by outstanding scientists, educators and a talented professional staff. Our programs span the wide-ranging interests of our members, and address not only the most significant issues in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, but also contemporary issues of importance to the general public. Our invigorating conferences, top-rated journals, engaging and accredited training programs, effective advocacy programs, and creative engagement with public stakeholders, are best in class, and form an awesome foundation for growth and prosperity.
I was proud to join a premier society like ASBMB as a graduate student, and the society provided me career-enhancing connections, opportunities and support. At each stage of my career, ASBMB offered me new avenues to get involved within our vibrant network of talented and dedicated scientists, which enabled me to achieve my goals. Fittingly, I believe a key step in building on our impressive accomplishments and strengthening the society is increasing the participation of and enhancing the interaction among all member levels, disciplines and career paths —within a socially just framework that welcomes and encourages all.
I will work with our committees and staff to connect members through a variety of electronic and in-person platforms. Because there is tremendous common ground, shared interests, and values among our members and committees, I will strive to raise awareness and promote collaboration in order to realize a more interactive and sustainable network that provides increasingly diverse and meaningful paths for bioscience professionals. I will commit to the ongoing challenges of publishing groundbreaking research while navigating the open access landscape, expanding our advocacy and outreach efforts, welcoming biotechnology industry, and invigorating and expanding our education and training efforts.
Candidates for Council
The ASBMB Council advises the president and executive director on setting priorities and strategic directions, overseeing resource allocations, and ensuring all activities align with the society’s mission. Councilors are elected for three-year terms. They can be re-elected or reappointed to serve one additional term.
Select three candidates in this race.
Teaster Baird Jr.
Professor and associate dean, San Francisco State University
Statement of interest: The ASBMB has been instrumental in my journey as a scientist and educator. From my first ASBMB meeting as a graduate student to my being selected as an ASBMB fellow two years ago, I have considered the ASBMB my scientific home. It would be an honor to serve on the Council and give back to the society.
I became a biochemist because of my fascination with enzymes. I became an educator because I have a talent, which I still work to further develop, for making complex scientific concepts more accessible to science novices. Cultivating these two passions over more than 20 years as a professor in the chemistry and biochemistry department at San Francisco State University has been fulfilling. However, it was the work that I did with the ASBMB that made me appreciate what was possible with the support of a professional society.
Serving as a member of the ASBMB Student Chapters Steering Committee and the former Public Outreach Committee afforded me valuable opportunities to learn from and work with exceptional, committed colleagues. Through those committees, I saw the impact of contributing to educational and outreach efforts on a national level.
We live in a time when misinformation and science denial are trending. I think it is more important than ever that the ASBMB uses its resources and influence in creative ways to combat these trends, while continuing to advance biochemistry and molecular biology. I believe we can do this as a professional society by supporting and promoting creative, innovative and bold ideas in science, education, outreach and advocacy. As a Council member, I would support the society’s ideas and goals, and serve the greater BMB community through this lens.
Professor, University of California San Francisco
Statement of interest: The ASBMB has supported me throughout my professional career. Access to major meetings and to more intimate, specialized symposia, introductions to a research community with mutual interests and opportunities to publish (including my first paper!) and review publications in journals related to my research area are some examples. I hope to return the favor by helping both young and more mature association members realize what ASBMB can do for them.
In particular, I have benefited greatly from a productive relationship between my laboratory’s discovery research in academia and practical applications in industry that have helped translate the work from the bench to the patient. The companies I have interacted with range from small biotechnology startups to established pharmaceutical companies. Providing ASBMB leadership with a perspective of how healthy, transparent, productive partnerships can be established with industry is a primary goal of mine during my tenure on the ASBMB Council.
In addition, having published in ASBMB’s journals and attended its meetings for over three decades, I feel strongly about maintaining the quality and ready access of the journals and meetings to the broader scientific community and will help in improving their access and impact.
Catherine L. Drennan
Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Statement of interest: In 25 years of attending ASBMB meetings, I have been overjoyed to watch women’s networking events grow from two-table, snacks-provided events to ballroom-sized dinner events. I have been thrilled to watch the undergraduate poster competition, which I started as a postdoc in 1999 with a handful of clipboards and six judges, grow into a mega-event that showcases undergraduate research and researchers from all types of colleges and universities.
My goal as a Council member would be to ensure that the ASBMB continues to promote undergraduate research; lead on diversity, equity and inclusion; and showcase the power and value of biochemistry and molecular biology.
Chief Scientific Officer, The V Foundation for Cancer Research
Statement of interest: Appreciation of, and engagement in, science has never been more important. A common thread through my ASBMB experience has been my gratitude for the ways in which the ASBMB elevates science and scientists. As a junior faculty member, my graduate students, postdocs and I attended our first ASBMB annual meeting to share our science. Because the opportunities for career development for my trainees were outstanding, we came back year after year. That ASBMB invests much in the careers of junior scientists speaks volumes about the mission of ASBMB to serve the needs of the scientific community.
My own interest in the broad dissemination of science afforded me the opportunity to join, and later chair, the ASBMB Science Outreach and Communication Committee. I am proud of our efforts, including the Art of Science Communication course this committee developed and teaches.
I am prouder still of the ways in which ASBMB highlights science advocacy, communication, education and outreach as core professional skills for ASBMB members. Putting resources in these spaces — in training, in advocacy, in outreach — challenges a scientist’s need for “proof.” It’s hard to know if our efforts matter, as their value is only potentially “proven” by their absence, in the void left behind. As individuals, investing in the elevation of science is akin to throwing a pebble over a cliff. We may never see where our pebble lands or the impact it makes. But, as a group, if enough of us toss our pebbles together, we can see their impact grow.
To better understand the ASBMB’s organizational resources, I serve on the ASBMB Finance Committee as well as on our Council for my first term. I was honored to have been an ASBMB fellow in 2022.
The ASBMB played a large role in my scientific development, and that of my trainees, and now influences the scientific lives of grantees in the programs I oversee as the chief scientific officer at V Foundation for Cancer Research. The ASBMB Council helps society leaders and members decide where best to throw our pebbles and where to put our limited resources of time and money, so that our combined efforts will afford the greatest influence. I would be honored to serve a second term.
Associate Professor, University of Texas at Arlington
I’m seeking this position because I want to continue to contribute to the ASBMB, an organization that I truly have grown to love and that inspires me. The ASBMB has not only supported my growth as a scientist and faculty member but has more importantly been very intentional about diversity, equity and inclusion and has shown unwavering support for all, including people of color and the LBGTQ community. Such support through programs, mentorship, outreach and engagement is critical for the future of STEM professionals, and I’d like to bring my experiences and expertise to further assist, and support, the organization through service as a member of the Council.
It has been a privilege to be a member of ASBMB’s Maximizing Access Committee (2017 to 2023) and the Nominating Committee. As a member of the Nominating Committee, I have been able to attract a broader group of people to ASBMB and recruit outstanding leaders from the scientific community to important committees, while enhancing that sense of belonging for scientists of all backgrounds, which was my mission! As a member of the MAC, I have championed issues of DEI in STEM, areas about which I have a deep and abiding passion.
Candidates for Nominating Committee
The ASBMB Nominating Committee nominates regular members of the society to stand for election for President, Council, Publications Committee and the Nominating Committee. Committee members are elected for three-year terms and can be re-elected or reappointed to serve one additional term.
Select two candidates in this race.
Professor and Chair, Boston University
Statement of interest: I am honored to be considered for service on the ASBMB Nominating Committee. In 2019, I co-founded the Women in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (WiBMB) Committee and am serving my second term as a member of that committee. Last year, I also co-chaired the Discover BMB meeting. I have been excited by the enthusiasm of our members for the programming, awards and networking opportunities the ASBMB has to offer.
As a member of the Nominating Committee, I will work toward tapping the full extent of our scientific community to allow broad participation in positions at all levels in our society. My work will be guided by the principle that our committee membership should reflect the true ideals of the society in terms of equity and inclusion. I hope to gain your support via your vote.
Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Statement of interest: I have been a member of the ASBMB for the past 20 years and currently serve as an associate editor for the Journal of Lipid Research and an editorial board member for the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
I am deeply invested in efforts to enhance diversity within basic science. At UT Southwestern, I co-direct the Provost’s Initiative for Diverse Emerging Scholars (PROVIDES), which was conceived to support qualified postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented groups.
I am particularly excited about my most recent role as a mentor for the ASBMB MOSAIC K99/00 program.
As a member of the ASBMB Nominating Committee, I will strive to ensure that the ASBMB leadership remains inclusive and continues to be represented by scientists from an array of racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, class and scientific backgrounds.
Professor, Virginia Tech
Statement of interest: I am honored to be considered as a candidate for the ASBMB Nominating Committee. As a member of this committee, I intend to bring my expertise, dedication and commitment to ensuring transparency, fairness and inclusivity.
Meetings and other activities organized by the ASBMB are instrumental for the growth and dissemination of biochemical research in the U.S. and beyond. I consider the identification and selection of leaders who will continue and improve society’s activities a very important task.
Candidates for Publications Committee
The ASBMB Publications Committee oversees the society’s scholarly publishing activities and advises the Council on policy and ethical issues that may arise and advises journal editors about editorial matters, including the approval of associate editor appointments. Committee members are elected for five-year terms and can be re-elected or reappointed to serve one additional term.
Select two candidates in this race.
Associate Professor, The Pennsylvania State University
Statement of interest: I welcome the opportunity to join the ASBMB Publications Committee. It would be a great honor for me to maintain the leading excellence of ASBMB journals. I also look forward to advocating for excellence and visibility of a biochemistry and molecular biology perspective in a highly interdisciplinary environment with convergence of genomics, proteomics, structural biology, computational biology and structure prediction and, broadly, chemistry and physics.
Amidst the plethora of societies, journal publishing options and advances in AI, such as ChatGPT, the ASBMB and its journals are more important than ever in guiding opinion and education of scientists and nonscientists alike. My international career beginning with undergraduate education in India, postgraduate education and postdoctoral training in the United States, independent research career in Singapore and now in the U.S., gives me a unique and valuable global perspective for the Publications Committee.
The ASBMB is a leader in articulating an interdisciplinary understanding of life at the molecular level. Maintaining the high standards of ASBMB journals is critical to maintain that leadership. Despite the seeming enormous diversity of subjects at a morphological level, ASBMB journals articulate a common mechanistic thread connecting all biomolecules and a common rigorous scientific approach.
The ASBMB and its journals offer the best resources for lifelong learning. As a biochemist and structural biologist who has used mass spectrometry for probing dynamics of large macromolecular signaling complexes and viruses, I have found JBC and MCP to be pivotal for my research career.
The ASBMB has been my educational home base throughout my academic career. The ASBMB annual meeting was my first conference as a graduate student in 1997, and I came away most impressed by the enormous scale, breadth and depth of research, education and mentoring.
The society has been pivotal for my career; it has been an invaluable resource at all stages — from identifying my postdoctoral research mentor, to starting my independent career at the National University of Singapore and then to holding my current position at Penn State.
Unsurprisingly, all of my mentors and role models have held leadership roles at the society. The most enduring contribution of the ASBMB is its ability to guide generations of interdisciplinary scientists at all levels. The ASBMB covers research and education that integrates spatial (molecules to organisms) and timescale (sub-second enzyme reactions to development over years) perspectives in biology. The ASBMB educates its members, young and old, and is an interdisciplinary, inclusive forum for integrating advances in STEM with art.
I am passionate about the ASBMB’s commitment to lifelong learning and continuous mentorship for all ages. If elected, I will champion the voices of younger scientists in ASBMB journals. This will ease career transitions and train scientists to explore new areas of research. ASBMB journals are pivotal in assisting scientists to move beyond a comfort zone guided by a narrow scientific focus, defined by past training and expertise. I will use my position to strive to cement ASBMB’s leadership in advancing inclusivity and diversity in interdisciplinary research.
Professor, Mayo Clinic, and Associate Dean, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Statement of interest: It has been my privilege to serve one term on the ASBMB Publications Committee, and I am enthusiastic to volunteer my services for a second term. I am committed to contributing to thoughtful and well-considered decisions that will uphold the excellent reputations of our journals for publishing ethical, rigorous science with long-lasting impact.
I will advocate for shaping the composition of our teams of associate editors and editorial boards to reflect the broad scientific, geographical and individual diversity of our membership. I seek to ensure that the society’s journals will always be a sought-after and welcoming home for the best science produced by our society members of all career stages.
Brian “Binks” Wattenberg
Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Statement of interest: I was raised, scientifically, on the ASBMB’s Journal of Biological Chemistry and Journal of Lipid Research. With the proliferation of journals and other platforms for publication such as preprint servers, the ASBMB journals stand out for their deep legacy of integrity, broad scope and thoroughness of the review process. If elected, my hope would be to help guide these journals through the evolving publication landscape to maintain that legacy.
The challenges presented by open-access publishing and the attendant changes in revenue need to be met to ensure that the journals, and the society, remain financially viable while ensuring that submission and publication remains available to researchers regardless of their financial resources. Connected to this is working with Elsevier to maintain both the editorial standards and financial interests of ASBMB. ASBMB Today is an amazing publication, and I would work to ensure that the society’s support for ASBMB Today remains high.
Associate professor, New Mexico State University
Statement of interest: I was initially drawn to the ASBMB for the excellent journals and conferences as venues to disseminate my research work. When I took a faculty position at New Mexico State University, I became more interested in advocating for students in science to improve their research and educational and professional-development opportunities. The ASBMB has many of these opportunities!
I have acted as adviser for the NMSU student chapter, led the process for ASBMB accreditation of our B.S. in biochemistry degree, and for the last two years served on the Student Chapters Steering Committee as co-director for the Southwest region.
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These funding mechanisms have been underutilized. The ASBMB public affairs staff offers recommendations to change that.