Conference Evaluation Committee

Conference Evaluation Committee                

The GRC Conference Evaluation Committee is responsible for evaluating the scientific quality of each conference.  The committee makes annual recommendations to the board on the continuation of existing conferences and approval of proposed new conferences. Nine members of the committee are elected by the council for six-year terms, and three members of the committee are appointed by the board. In addition, all members of the board are ex officio members of the Conference Evaluation Committee.
Gabriel Aeppli
Paul Scherrer Institute
Term: November 2016-2022
Gabriel Aeppli is professor of physics at ETH Zürich and EPF Lausanne, and head of the Photon Science division of the Paul Scherrer Institute. All of his degrees are from MIT and include a BSc in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, and MSc and PhD in Electrical Engineering. He started his career as a work-study student at IBM and after his PhD moved to Bell Laboratories and then NEC, and worked on problems ranging from liquid crystals to magnetic data storage. He was subsequently co-founder and director of the London Centre for Nanotechnology and Quain Professor at University College London. Aeppli also cofounded the Bio-Nano Consulting Company, of which he remains a non-executive director. He is a frequent advisor to numerous entities worldwide (including China, Australia, Europe and the US) engaged in the funding, evaluation and management of science and technology. Honors include the Mott Prize of the Institute of Physics (London), the Oliver Buckley prize of the American Physical Society, the Néel Medal/International Magnetism Prize of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society (London). Aeppli’s scientific research is focused on the applications of nanotechnology and photon science to biomedicine and quantum information processing. Projects include the development of optical and microwave tools for medical diagnostics and pharmacology, where the topics are new drug-target and antibody-antigen binding assays. Photons are also at the heart of efforts to control and read out quantum states in solids, including especially silicon, for which coherent, tunable pulses of THz radiation are exploited. A related topic is adiabatic quantum computing, where calculations are performed by mapping problems onto networks of qubits, and then relaxing the networks via quantum mechanics. Aeppli states: "GRC conferences should focus on the interfaces between disciplines where growth is generally likely to occur, as well as informal interactions between scientists of different generations and world regions, which will enable the collaborations needed to take advantage of current research opportunities".
Cynthia Czajkowski
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Term: November 2016-2022
Cynthia Czajkowski is Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in Biological Sciences and Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health. Born and raised in New York City, she received her B.A. from New York University and her Ph.D. from the State University of New York - Downstate Medical Center. After completing postdoctoral training at Columbia University, she joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Her laboratory uses an array of approaches including voltage and patch-clamping recording, voltage-clamp fluorimetry and site-directed spin labeling electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy to elucidate structural mechanisms underlying how neurotransmitters activate pentameric ligand-gated ion channels and how allosteric drugs modulate their activity. Her group has advanced our understanding of how a receptor binds its ligand: the first step in chemical signal transduction. She is on the editorial boards of the Journal of General Physiology and Biophysical Journal and has served as an associate editor for the Journal of Neuroscience. She has served on many grant review panels for NIH, MRC and the Wellcome Trust including reviews of NIH R13 conference grants. She has spoken at and attended numerous GRCs including Ion Channels, Inhibition in the Brain and Ligand Recognition and Molecular Gating. Czajkowski states: "GRC participation as an early career scientist provided me with lifelong research mentors and colleagues. As an established scientist, GRCs reinvigorate my science and inspire my mentees. GRC's small size, intimate locations, quality presentations on cutting-edge science and numerous opportunities for informal interactions/discussions between leading scientists, early career scientists and trainees are what make them the must-go-to conferences in many fields. Future conferences should maintain these critical qualities, be flexible to the changing scientific landscape and strive for more participation by women, minorities and third world scientists".
Sabeeha Merchant
University of California, Berkeley
Term: November 2016-2022
Sabeeha Merchant is Professor of Plant and Microbial Biology and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California in Berkeley. Merchant earned degrees in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and undertook post-doctoral studies at Harvard University. She started her academic career in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA and served as Director of the Institute for Genomics and Proteomics until 2018. Merchant’s discoveries have influenced scholarly thought in diverse disciplines, from biogeochemistry and biological oceanography to photosynthesis, plant biochemistry and human nutrition. Merchant formulated the concepts of elemental sparing and recycling, which operate to sustain life in situations of deficiency by prioritized distribution of the limiting resource. Her concept of “reduce and re-use” has now been demonstrated across the kingdom of life. Merchant is recognized separately in plant biology for discoveries relating to chloroplast biogenesis and contributions to the genomics of algae. Merchant has served on advisory boards in government, academia and industry and was the Editor of the Annual Reviews of Plant Biology and Editor-in-Chief of The Plant Cell. Her accomplishments are recognized by a Guggenheim fellowship, major awards from the American Society of Plant Biologists, the National Academy of Sciences and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and election to the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Leopoldina. Merchant has attended more than 30 GRCs in 10 different subject areas and has chaired conferences in Photosynthesis and the Cell Biology of Metals. Merchant states, "She enjoys the camaraderie and spirit at the GRCs, especially the egalitarian interactions with an international community, from student researchers to distinguished scientists, which is enabled and cemented by the structure of the program. Merchant wants to maintain this spirit through increased international participation - attendees, speakers/chairs, sites - to reflect today’s more global scientific community. She views the introduction and sunset of conference topics as key to the continued vitality, high visibility and professional stature of the GRCs".
Denise Montell
University of California, Santa Barbara
Term: November 2016-2022
Denise Montell is the Robert and Patricia Duggan Professor and Distinguished Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned her B.A. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford. She pursued postdoctoral studies at the Carnegie Institution and was promoted to a junior faculty position after two years. In 1992 she joined the Johns Hopkins Medical School where she rose from Assistant to Associate to Full Professor. She directed the graduate program in Biological Chemistry for 13 years and served as the founding director of the Center for Cell Dynamics. After 25 years away, she returned to California in 2013. Her research interests focus on elucidating how cells build and maintain adult tissues. This includes studies of morphogenesis, especially collective cell migration, cell fate, pattern formation, stem cell/niche interactions and the daily decisions cells make to live or die. Montell is an elected fellow of The American Society of Cell Biology and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Montell has served on the advisory councils of the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences, the American Cancer Society, and the American Society for Cell Biology. She served as President of the National Drosophila Board and is currently the elected President of the Genetics Society of America. She has participated in a dozen Gordon Research Conferences and chaired the Directed Cell Migration GRC in 2017. Montell states, "The GRCs and GRSs hold a unique place in modern science. The opportunities for both formal and informal interactions in a cloistered environment create truly formative experiences. I vividly recall sitting next to a renowned scientist at my first GRC, when I was a senior PhD student, and being awed that he was interested in a scientific exchange. Going forward, preserving the essence of the GRC/GRS experience while incorporating new ideas so as to maintain a sense of excitement are key goals".
Ralph Bock
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
Term: November 2018-2024
Ralph Bock is Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology and Professor at the University of Potsdam. He received undergraduate and MSc degrees from the University of Halle, Germany, and a PhD from the University of Freiburg. Prior to accepting his current position, he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Freiburg and a Full Professor and Chair of the Institute for Biochemistry and Plant Biotechnology at the University of Münster, Germany. Research in the Bock lab focuses on the biology of cell organelles (chloroplasts and mitochondria) and their integration into the genetic, metabolic and signaling networks operating in plant cells. The Bock group also develops new technologies for genetic engineering and applies these in biotechnology, synthetic biology and experimental evolution. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers and mentored more than 70 PhD students and post-doctoral fellows. He participated in many Gordon Research Conferences (on six different topics) and served as Chair of the Chloroplast Biotechnology GRC in 2017. He is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) and an elected member of EMBO. He was awarded the Martin Gibbs Medal of the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2017. Bock states, “What makes the GRCs truly special is the intensity of the personal interactions among participants, the ample time for stimulating discussions in and between the scientific sessions, and the great opportunities to forge new collaborations. As conferences and their formats are evolving, and some conference series may turn into virtual conferences in the foreseeable future, the GRCs need to keep and further strengthen their spirit of openness and intense interactions between participants, in the face of the challenges posed by the ever-increasing acceleration of the scientific process.”
Kathryn Song Eng Cheah
University of Hong Kong
Term: November 2018-2024
Kathryn Cheah is Jimmy & Emily Tang Professor in Molecular Genetics and Chair Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) where she served as Head, Department of Biochemistry (12 years); and as Director of the Centre for Reproduction, Development and Growth (5 years). She graduated from the University of Cambridge, UK, was a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Manchester and Imperial Cancer Research Fund, UK. She was the founding President of the Hong Kong Society for Developmental Biology; Hong Kong representative for Asia-Pacific Developmental Biology Network and the International Society of Developmental Biology; elected past President of the International Society for Matrix Biology; and served as Senior External Fellow of the University of Freiberg Institute Of Advanced Studies. She is currently an elected member of the Board of Directors of the International Society of Differentiation. Her research focuses on functional genomics in skeletal and inner ear development and the implications for disease mechanisms. Notable discoveries are the identification of Sox2 as a hearing gene, a lineage continuum for cartilage and bone cells and a causative link between endoplasmic reticulum stress and skeletal disorders. She is an elected Fellow of the global science academy, The World Academy Sciences (TWAS). She has organized 11 Croucher Foundation Advanced Study Institutes, served on the organizing/program committees of international symposia (e.g. Human Genome Meeting); chaired the HKSDB Symposium “From Embryology to Disease Mechanisms” (2012). She has attended over 30 Gordon Research Conferences (GRC), chaired the GRC on Cartilage Biology and Pathology in 2011. She has the highest regard for the impact of GRCs for the dissemination of frontier knowledge and for facilitating collaborations and career development at all levels. Cheah states, “The uniqueness of the GRCs and GRSs, fostering sharing of unpublished research at the cutting edge, inspires investigators at all levels of seniority and forms the bases for many long term global friendships. Looking forwards, the GRC should continue to expand its presence in Asia and its relevance in science, globally. By constantly being current, promoting interdisciplinarity and a scientific world without boundaries, it will surely empower the next generation of research leaders.”
Jorge E. Galán
Yale University
Term: November 2018-2024
Jorge E. Galán, D.M.V., Ph.D. is a graduate of National University of La Plata, Argentina where he completed his Veterinary Science degree in 1982. He earned his Ph.D. at Cornell University in Microbiology in 1986 and completed his postdoctoral studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Before joining the Yale Faculty in 1998, he was an Associate Professor at SUNY Stony Brook within the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. Currently, he is the Lucille B. Markey Professor of Microbiology, Chair of the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, and Professor of Cell Biology at the Yale University School of Medicine. His research interest focuses on the understanding of the mechanisms of pathogenesis of the enteric pathogens Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter jejuni. He has authored more than 200 publications in the field of bacterial pathogenesis and molecular and cell biology. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences in 1990, the Searle Scholar Award in 1991, the National Institutes of Health MERIT awards in 2000 and 2015, the Hans Sigrist Prize in 2002, the Alexander M. Cruickshank Award in 2010, and the Robert Koch Prize in 2011. He is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology, the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and a member of the USA National Academy of Sciences. He has organized multiple National and International Scientific Conferences and is a member of several Scientific Advisory Boards. He has attended many Gordon Research Conferences and chaired the Gordon Conference on Microbial Adherence and Signal Transduction in 2003. Galán states, “The commercialization of research conferences has resulted in the proliferation of scientific meetings, which is threatening to degrade the true nature of these gatherings. The GRC are among the very few scientific meetings that have retained the true spirit of what scientific meetings should be about. The challenge for the future will be to maintain the spirit and relevance of these gatherings in the midst of a rapidly changing environment.”
Paul S. Weiss
University of California, Los Angeles
Term: November 2018-2024
Paul S. Weiss holds a UC Presidential Chair and is a distinguished professor of chemistry & biochemistry and of materials science & engineering at UCLA. He received his S.B. and S.M. degrees in chemistry from MIT in 1980 and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986. He was a postdoctoral member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories from 1986-88 and a visiting scientist at IBM Almaden Research Center from 1988-89. He served as the director of the California NanoSystems Institute and held the Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences at UCLA from 2009-14. Before coming to UCLA, he was a distinguished professor of chemistry and physics at the Pennsylvania State University, where he began his academic career in 1989. His interdisciplinary research group includes chemists, physicists, biologists, materials scientists, mathematicians, electrical and mechanical engineers, computer scientists, clinicians, and physician scientists. They focus on the ultimate limits of miniaturization, exploring the atomic-scale chemical, physical, optical, mechanical, and electronic properties of surfaces, interfaces, and supramolecular assemblies. They develop new techniques to expand the applicability and chemical specificity of scanning probe microscopies. They apply these and other tools to study self- and directed assembly, and molecular and nanoscale devices. They advance nanofabrication down to ever smaller scales and greater chemical specificity to operate and to test functional molecular assemblies, and to connect these to the biological and chemical worlds. Two major themes in his laboratory are cooperativity in functional molecules and single-molecule/assembly biological structural and functional measurements. He has written over 400 publications, holds over 30 patents, and has given over 700 invited, plenary, keynote, and named lectures. He has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Presidential Young Investigator Award (1991-96), the Scanning Microscopy International Presidential Scholarship (1994), the B. F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Award (1994), an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship (1995-97), the American Chemical Society (ACS) Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry (1996), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1997), a NSF Creativity Award (1997-99), the ACS Award in Colloid and Surface Chemistry (2015), the ACS Southern California Section Tolman Medal (2017), and the ACS Patterson-Crane Award in Chemical Information (2018), among others. He was elected a fellow of: the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2000), the American Physical Society (2002), the American Vacuum Society (2007), the ACS (2010), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2016), the Canadian Academy of Engineering (2017), and an honorary fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society (2010). He was also elected a senior member of the IEEE (2009). He received Penn State’s University Teaching Award from the Schreyer Honors College (2004), was named a nanofabrication fellow at Penn State (2005), and won the Alpha Chi Sigma Outstanding Professor Award (2007). He was a visiting professor at the University of Washington, Department of Molecular Biotechnology (1996-97) and Kyoto University, Electronic Science and Engineering Department and Venture Business Laboratory (1998 and 2000), and a distinguished visiting professor at the Kavli Nanoscience Institute and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Caltech (2015). He is a visiting scholar at the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (2015-18). He held the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) Chaire d'excellence Jacques­Beaulieu at the Centre for Energy, Materials and Telecommunications (2016-17) and was a Fulbright Specialist for the Czech Republic (2017). He was a member of the U.S. National Committee to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (2000-05). He has been the technical co-chair of the Foundations of Nanoscience Meetings, thematic chair of the Spring 2009 and Fall 2018 ACS National Meetings. He was the senior editor of IEEE Electron Device Letters for molecular and organic electronics (2005-07), and is the founding editor-in-chief of ACS Nano (2007-). At ACS Nano, he won the Association of American Publishers, Professional Scholarly Publishing PROSE Award for 2008, Best New Journal in Science, Technology, and Medicine, and ISI’s Rising Star Award a record ten times. Weiss states, “The Gordon Research Conferences play a special role in which science can be discussed freely at early stages of development. I would like to see the meetings, discussions, and talks focus more on the challenges and opportunities of fields in order to accelerate advances and to cross-pollinate ideas.”
Laura L. Kiessling
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Term: November 2020-2026
Laura L. Kiessling is the Novartis Professor of Chemistry at MIT and a Member of the Broad Institute. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from MIT and her Ph.D. from Yale University. After postdoctoral studies at Caltech, she began her independent career as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research group develops and implements chemical biology to investigate cell-surface glycans, including using synthetic chemistry to generate glycoprotein and mucin mimics. Her interest in cell surface carbohydrates extends to their roles in immunity, development, and control of the human microbiome. She also applies insight into protein-glycan interactions to develop new strategies to control microbial infection. Kiessling is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. She is the founding editor-in-chief of the journal ACS Chemical Biology and has experience in conference planning through her previous service on the Keystone Symposia Board. She has served as a mentor for more than 90 coworkers (63 graduate students and 29 post doctorates) and is dedicated to providing young researchers with opportunities to disseminate their results. Kiessling asserts, “Because of their welcoming environments, open discussions, and high-quality speakers, GRCs are ideal vehicles for nurturing and advancing science. A major challenge is to ensure that the conferences tackle emerging areas of science, especially interdisciplinary science. These meetings also must accelerate efforts to become more inclusive with diverse speakers.”
Anna K. Mapp
University of Michigan
Term: November 2020-2026
Anna K. Mapp is the Edwin Vedejs Collegiate Professor of Chemistry and a Research Professor of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan. She is also the Associate Dean of Biological & Health Sciences at Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan. She received an A.B. in Chemistry from Bryn Mawr College and the Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of California-Berkeley. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech, she began her independent career at the University of Michigan.  Mapp’s research interests center around the conformationally dynamic protein complexes that are central to gene activation. More specifically, her group uses multidisciplinary strategies to define the molecular recognition framework of transcriptional coactivator-transcription factor complexes and to use the framework to target the complexes for therapeutic purposes. She notes her attendance at the Bioorganic Gordon Conference as a postdoc was instrumental in her career path, due to the creative scientific discussions and the commitment to mentoring junior scientist by the luminaries at the conference. She has further seen the outstanding impact the growth of the GRS has had on the career development of her own students and postdoctoral fellows. Mapp believes strongly in the central importance of the GRC/GRS in supporting junior scientists. She views GRCs as the most important venue for creative scientific discussions that cross the boundaries of disciplines, countries, and career stage, stimulating collaborations and discoveries. Efforts to further facilitate interactions of scientists from diverse mindsets and backgrounds are thus critical moving forward.
E.W. “Bert” Meijer
Eindhoven University of Technology
Term: November 2020-2026
E.W. “Bert” Meijer is Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS) of the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands. After receiving his PhD degree in Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen in 1982, he worked for 10 years in industry (Philips and DSM) on materials. In 1991 he was appointed in Eindhoven, while he has part-time positions in Nijmegen, Santa Barbara, and at the Max Planck Institute in Mainz. His main scientific achievements are in the discovery and development of supramolecular polymers and materials to create functional and adaptive molecular systems. He published over 600 peer-reviewed papers and trained more than 90 graduate students. Over 60 of the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have academic positions all over the world, while over 100 of them are active in an industrial setting. Bert Meijer founded the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems in Eindhoven and co-founded two companies. At present he is serving at the Board of Trustees of Leiden University, while being active in several evaluation committees worldwide. He is member of many editorial advisory boards, including the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and received a number of awards, including the Spinoza Award in 2001, the ACS Award for Polymer Chemistry in 2006, the ACS Cope Scholar Award in 2012, the Prelog medal in 2014, the Nagoya Gold medal and the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award in 2017, and the Chirality medal in 2018. He is awarded with two honorary doctoral degrees of Mons and Berlin. He is a member of many academies and societies, including the Royal Netherlands Academy of Science, where he is appointed to Academy Professor in 2014. In 2020 he was knighted by the King to become a Commander in the order of the Netherlands Lion. “Since its foundation, the Gordon Research Conferences are the cornerstone of fascinating science through inspiring discussion in the most exciting and fascinating fields of science. Keeping this leading position for every generation and for all fields of science that really matter, is the exciting challenge in a changing society.”
JoAnne Stubbe
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Term: November 2020-2026
JoAnne Stubbe is the Novartis Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She received her B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.  Over her career, her research group has helped explain the mechanisms of some of nature’s most complex and important enzymes using a wide range of tools.  The key to success has been often working with outstanding collaborates to develop new techniques to reveal the otherwise inaccessible chemical complexity of these systems.  She has received many awards throughout her career, most notably the National Medal of Science in 2008, the MIT Killian Faculty Award in 2012 and the Pearl Meister Greengard International Award to recognize Outstanding Women in Biomedical Science in 2017.  Stubbe states, “Today's problems require collaborative solutions.  GRCs should continue to bring scientists from around the world together to present comprehensive perspectives on these big problems and to discuss and create practical solutions”.

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