Tuesday, November 25, 2014, Baltimore, MD—Biologist Marnie Halpern of Carnegie’s Department of Embryology has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her “fundamental contributions to developmental biology, particularly using novel genetic approaches to study patterning of the nervous system.”

Halpern has been a staff scientist at Carnegie since1994. Using the tiny zebrafish, Danio rerio, Halpern explores how regional specializations occur within the neural tube, the embryonic tissue that develops into the brain and spinal cord. The zebrafish is ideal for these studies for various reasons, but most importantly because the embryos are transparent, allowing scientists to watch the nervous system develop and to identify mutants easily. Her group has been performing screens to identify the genes that control the brain’s asymmetry and they have developed methods to affect laterality.

Allan Spradling, director of the Department of Embryology, remarked: “Marnie has paved the way for understanding how our nervous systems are patterned using her novel methods. She exemplifies what Andrew Carnegie had in mind when he established this institution to support exceptional researchers.”

Halpern received her B.Sc. in biology from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and her master’s at the McMaster University Medical Centre. She then went on to Yale for her Ph.D. and did postdoctoral work at the Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon.

Over the years Halpern has organized many professional meetings and served on numerous scientific advisory boards. She served on the editorial board of Developmental Biology and as managing editor of Mechanisms of Development. She was chair of the Education About Evolution subcommittee of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and has served on the Fellowship Award Committee of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and as a panel member at NIH. Together with Baltimore public school science teachers, she has run a speakers’ program, Women Serious About Science, which encourages girls from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in science.

This year 401 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a rosette pin on Saturday, February 14, 2015, at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA.

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