UCSC Review Winter 1995
Alumni News: Bio alumni return for Sinsheimer symposium
Course work is rigorous for today's students in the biological sciences. Even more daunting, however, is the prospect of launching a career in an era when resources for young scientists seem to be dwindling. This perception of limited job options often dissuades students from pursuing biological research in the "real world." Yet many UCSC alumni have overcome that hurdle and are now on the fast track toward distinguished research careers.
Eight of these alumni returned to Santa Cruz in October for the 2nd Sinsheimer Symposium in Biology. At this one-day event, the alumni scientists gave current students a sneak preview of what their lives could be like in a decade or two if they stay the course. The speakers outlined a striking variety of careers in academia and industry. For instance, Jim Breitmeyer (Crown '75) of Serono Laboratories in Norwell, Mass., reviewed the causes and treatment of AIDS wasting syndrome; Joe Ayers (Graduate Division '76) of Northeastern University described his work on biologically based underwater robots; and Melody Siegler (Graduate Division '77) of Emory University discussed the central nervous systems of grasshoppers.
"The first Sinsheimer symposium in 1989 showed us that students identify much more strongly with alumni than with faculty members as career role models," says professor of biology Robert Ludwig, organizer of the symposium. "We think our alumni are a vastly underutilized resource, and we hope to bring them back more often."
In return, the alumni enjoyed recalling their shared experiences, attributing at least some of their success to the cherished UCSC tradition of giving undergraduates the opportunity to conduct real research. "At Santa Cruz, we learned that doing good science is fun," says Sue Goelz (Porter '75) of Biogen, Inc. "That's a premise we too often forget later in our careers."
UCSC Chancellor Emeritus Robert Sinsheimer, now a research professor of biology at UC Santa Barbara, remains a major supporter of the ongoing symposium series. Other sponsors include the UC Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program and the UCSC Alumni Association.