Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, was named the 2014 Athena Award winner today at a special luncheon at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The award, presented annually by the Women's Council of the Rochester Business Alliance, recognizes women who excel in their professions, give back to their communities and mentor other women for leadership roles.
Maquat is an internationally recognized expert in the field of RNA biology in which she works to discover new cellular pathways and clues to the molecular basis of human disease. She is the Founding Director of the University’s Center for RNA Biology and in 2011 received one of the highest honors possible for any scientist – election to the National Academy of Sciences. Elected for her exceptional research, which has been published in more than 110 peer reviewed scientific journals, Maquat is one of only three faculty members from the University of Rochester Medical Center who have been appointed to the Academy and the only woman.
Maquat spends a great deal of time on peer review – reviewing research papers submitted to scientific journals and grant submissions to funding agencies in the US and abroad – as a way to give back to the scientific community. She has been a member of the RNA Society, which encourages the sharing of experimental results and emerging concepts in RNA research, since its formation in 1993 and has held every elective office from director, to secretary/treasurer, to president.
Having spent her career advocating for young women in the sciences, Maquat founded the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science program (GWIS) in 2003. The goal of GWIS is to address the “leaky pipeline”, which describes how fewer women than men who earn a Ph.D. degree in science go on to use that degree in a career. Each month, GWIS hosts a round-table discussion of high-profile speakers who are using advanced degrees in traditional and non-traditional ways. Twice a year, active GWIS members can apply for travel awards to attend a conference, seminar or other external event that will help them advance their career.
Maquat works to help women broaden their awareness of what they can do with a Ph.D. through the monthly discussions and travel experiences. In 2013, she was awarded the University of Rochester Presidential Diversity Award for her work with the GWIS program and her commitment to mentoring women scientists and scientists-in-training.
The Athena award program was founded in 1982 to recognize and honor the achievements of outstanding female leaders and introduced to Rochester in 1987. This year, Maquat was one of thirteen women chosen as finalists by the Rochester Women's Council for their professional excellence, community service and active and generous assistance in helping other women develop leadership skills.