Executive Board adds Two New Representatives: A Brief Interview with Allis and Peter

Allis Chen and Peter Lopez roll onto the Executive Board as our newly elected representatives after our annual meeting this month. Given their new roles in our community, we thought this blog would be a great place to help us get to know them better and even post some comments and questions for them.   Both, Peter and Allis will be attending the 2015 ABRF meeting in St. Louis this weekend.  Feel free to introduce yourself and welcome them.  Both Allis, Peter, and the rest of our Executive Board are interested in hearing more about your hopes and ideas for our association.

 

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Allis Chien earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University — where she remains, fifteen years later.  (Some bonus trivia provided by Allis is that Stanford is the single largest employer of Stanford graduates!)

How did you come to be involved with cores?

I went through graduate school expecting to end up as a chemist in industry. Just as I was finishing up my thesis, Stanford needed someone to run a newly acquired ion trap mass spectrometer. Working with the instrument sounded like something fun to do while I searched for a “real” job. Setting up the core was merely necessary bookkeeping. Fortunately, I had a mentor and model in Al Smith and his Protein and Nucleic Acid Facility, just across campus. Al immediately introduced me to the ABRF, and the temporary job developed into a career. What I love most about my core career: 1) Helping people. 2) The variety — rather than delving deeply into one research project, I get to see such a breadth of research in so many fields. 3) Continuous growth and learning opportunities — in technology, research needs, and administration skills, as well as in unexpected areas such as lab construction, event planning, and even filming for TV. The job constantly changes along with the core’s expansion, and keeps life interesting.

What do you do when you are not working?

Life off campus is about spending time with my chemist husband and kindergartener son, who share an obsession with Legos. We’ve recently discovered geocaching as a fun (and free!) fresh air activity. As David grows up, I’m gradually scavenging time to reinstate lifelong interests and hobbies, including knitting, crocheting, reading, and supplying piano and/or vocals on our church’s worship team. Having a young child is also a great excuse to learn new skills like riding a scooter and sculpting balloon animals, and to enjoy picture books and silly songs.

What are your ideas for the future of ABRF?

In the current climate of funding fears and interdisciplinary science, cores are more relevant than ever. Increasingly, institutions are turning to cores as an efficient and cost-effective way to support research. With research projects standing on the legs of numerous technologies, it is essential to be conversant with technologies outside one’s own field. The combination of the ABRF’s administrative and many technological constituents makes it the premier place to learn and network. The ABRF serves a different — and more holistic — purpose than individual technology-based societies and meetings.

My vision of the ABRF is a thriving, “doing” society, active in what ABRF folk do best — helping. The strength and heart of the ABRF is in its members. In helping its members and cores and thereby their respective users and institutions, the ABRF will simultaneously publicize its activities, grow its membership, and maintain healthy relationships with its sponsors.

 

peter-lopez Peter Lopez has been involved in shared research facility leadership for most of his 38 year career in flow cytometry, managing core facilities at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (including imaging and sequencing cores) and currently at the NYU Langone Medical Center. He has been intimately involved in flow cytometric application and instrument development, the latter while at Cytomation, the company who developed the MoFlo high-speed cell sorter. He formed the Boston User Group (BUG) in 1994, is currently the President of the MetroFLow (NY/NJ) flow cytometry user group, as well as President of NERLSCD.

How did you come to be involved with cores?

I started out with core labs when my second job took me to Fox Chase Cancer Institute in 1982, working with immunologist Dr. Donald Mosier. I learned the importance of well-run cores as a facilitator of basic research, and Don gave me a lot of latitude in the lab to learn the art. During this time I started (in 1986) a then-informal gathering at the ISAC annual conference (CYTO) to discuss “core” related issues. This meeting continues  to this day as the SRL Manager’s Forum , which occurs as a well-attended event within the ISAC meeting and draws almost 300 attendees . I thank Sheenah Mische who I work with at NYULMC for pointing me in the direction of ABRF, and I’ve been a member since 2010.

What do you do when you are not working?

My wife would probably say “Too much! ”. I always have some home improvement project underway (well, maybe more than one) , but try to  fit in time to enjoy good meals home or out. I usually cook at home since I’ve cooked professionally. I also enjoy wine, and keep a small cellar. My wife and I enjoy bicycling, and well, we both like to shop. I am always in search of our next best house cocktail. I garden every year with underwhelming results. I’ve always built all of our home computers for the last 20 years. I have a 1983 convertible that I like to drive when it’s nice outside. I have been known to enjoy playing squash, downhill skiing, camping, and High-Powered Rocketry (don’t worry– it’s a legal and licensed activity), and hope to get back to active status with some of these past interests before I forget how to participate.

What are your ideas for the future of ABRF?

Towards the goal of better experimental reproducibility (and solidifying the important role of cores in scientific research), I would be interested in exploring the following questions:

  • Can ABRF propose a best practices policy where journals would require authors to indicate at time of submission if institutional core facilities were used in generating data for a manuscript (or not)?
  • Can ABRF market itself as the source for SRL-technology experts which would serve the community by providing ad hoc review of the technical aspects of a manuscript?
  • Can ABRF become involved at some level in acknowledging cores that adhere to best practices for their respective core technology?

As I have a strong commitment to the educational component of cores, I am in favor of the ABRF expanding its educational mission:

  • Can ABRF members generate ABRF-branded educational material for delivery either in a classroom setting, at meetings, or via the Web?
  • Can ABRF generate material to be used as a reference for academic HR groups to better define career tracks for core facility professionals?

I would be interested in seeing enhanced interaction between ABRF and its Chapters. The affiliates and chapters can be a great source for maintaining or increasing ABRF membership.  I would be in favor of offering an ABRF membership discount to attendees of regional chapter meetings.

The ABRF should continue to investigate membership demographics at both the regional and international meeting levels to note trends, new or underrepresented core technologies, and respond to this information with new initiatives, both at the regional and international settings.

ABRF Representatives attend the 2014 ABRCMS Meeting

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ABRF and FASEB attended the 2014 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in beautiful San Antonio (TX). The goal to educate attendee’s about careers in biotechnology, promote ABRF and membership, and serve as poster judges with the opportunity to offer Best Poster Awards to five outstanding science students that could benefit from attending ABRF.

ABRCMS is one of the largest conferences for underrepresented minority students and students with disabilities to pursue advance training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The conference main objective is to encourage these students to pursue that training and provide the tools and resources to make it possible. With 1,900 undergrads, 400 graduate students, and twelve disciplines, choosing 5 students was no easy task. I have attended many conferences during my professional career, but I could not help but being impressed by the students we met at ABRCMS. Many words come to my mind when I think about these students: knowledge, competence, enthusiasm, professionalism… and yes, it was like being in a fashion show for young professionals. They all looked amazing in their very professional clothes! (They certainly take this meeting very seriously!) But if I have to stress just one thing, what really impressed me the most was their passion. All the students I talked to were absolutely passionate about their work, and they were eager to tell you all about it and make you understand why their research was so terribly exciting and what you had been missing all those years.It was extremely refreshing to see all that excitement and reminded me once again why people decide to pursue a PhD and a career in science.

I also wanted to remind people about the crucial work that meetings like ABRCMS and societies like FASEB (and ABRF!) do on providing these extraordinary and often life-changing opportunities to minority students. Very special thanks to the FASEB crowd, not only are they instrumental in providing great opportunities to minority students, they are also efficient, engaging, fun people (should have seen Tim dancing with them in their booth!!).

And last but not least, I just wanted to congratulate our 5 outstanding winners: Ibrahim Osumanu; U Massachusetts Amherst, Hamid Hussaini; University of Buffalo, Kimberly Herard; Emory University, Isavannah Reyes; St Edwards University and Marissa Foster; UCLA.. Congratulations and we will see you in St Louis!!