GSA Award Seminars

Learn more about the 2024 awardees ≫

2024 GSA Award recipients

Upcoming seminars:

2024 Edward Novitski Prize: Elaine Ostrander

June 13, 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

Dogs and Their Genes: Whatever Will They Think of Next?

Domestic dogs are among the most variable mammalian land-based species on earth. In this seminar, Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health will discuss the genetic underpinnings of that variation, including breed-associated morphology, behavior, and disease susceptibility. Read her profile in Genes to Genomes.

Register Here

2024 Genetics Society of America Early Career Medal: Ofer Rog

July 11, 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

Chromatin Organization During Meiosis

In this seminar, Ofer Rog will discuss two unpublished stories from his lab–the first documenting the unexpected de-mixing of sister chromatids during meiotic prophase and the mechanisms that mediate it and the second describing a new genomic technique his lab developed to characterize large-scale chromatin organization, and its application to meiotic chromosomes. Read his profile in Genes to Genomes.

Register Here

2024 Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal: Paul Sternberg

July 30, 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

A Worm’s Eye View of the Genotype-Phenotype Problem

C. elegans as an intensively-studied research organism holds out the promise of achieving comprehensive understanding of an organism. In this seminar, Paul Sternberg discusses the status of our knowledge of how a genome sequence specifies the properties of an organism in the context of state-of-the art technology and cool biology. Read his profile in Genes to Genomes.

Register Here

2024 Genetics Society of America Medal: Luciano Marraffini

September 9, 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

Bacteria and archaea are constantly challenged by viral (phage) pandemics that can decimate entire populations. In response to this existential threat, these organisms have developed a myriad of defence systems. In this seminar, Marraffini will explore two of these systems, restriction-modification and CRISPR, both repurposed as powerful tools for genetic manipulations, and will discuss his lab’s recent work which shows how restriction nucleases that attack the phage DNA contribute to the immunization stage of the CRISPR-Cas immune response. Read his profile on Genes to Genomes.

Register Here

Past Events

2024 Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education: Jef Boeke, on behalf of Build-a-Genome

May 28, 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

The Build-A-Genome Course, an Adventure in Mixing Research and Education

Build-a-Genome, started in 2007 at Johns Hopkins, directly engages undergraduate students in a worldwide collaborative project to build the first synthetic eukaryotic designer genome Yeast2.0. In this seminar, lead Jef Boeke will describe how the course teaches students fundamental principles of genetics; how to perform, interpret, and troubleshoot an experiment when the outcome is unknown; its history and resultant network of courses; effects on students and instructors; and impact on the International Sc2.0 project. Read his profile in Genes to Genomes.

2024 George W. Beadle Award: Deborah Andrew

May 16, 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

Transcriptional Regulation of Organ Specification, Form, and Function in a Model System

In this seminar, Deborah Andrew described her lab’s findings on how the Drosophila salivary gland is first specified and maintained, and how early and continuously expressed transcription factors control both secretory capacity and specificity. She discussed recent efforts using genome-wide approaches to discover how functional enhancers of downstream target genes are organized. Read her profile in Genes to Genomes.


2022 Genetics Society of America Medal: Margaret “Minx” Fuller

May 24, 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT

To divide or to differentiate: Cell state switches in an adult stem cell lineage

Adult stem cell lineages underlie most of the tissues in our body. Correct regulation of self-renewal, proliferation, and differentiation into the proper downstream cell fate(s) is critical for tissue maintenance and repair, with defects contributing to tissue dismorphogenesis, aging, and cancer. I will be discussing our work on the regulation of proliferation and differentiation in the Drosophila male germ line adult stem cell lineage and the surprising contributions of cell type specific alternative mRNA processing to cell state changes.

2022 George W. Beadle Award: Shirley Tilghman

May 19, 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste: Lessons for science from the global pandemic

The SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic has caused many to reconsider their priorities and policies. Scientists are no exception, and in this seminar I will explore ways in which our profession might evolve in light on the challenges we have encountered over the last two years.


2022 Edward Novitski Prize: Harmit Malik

May 17, 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT

Causes and consequences of meiotic drive

Larry Sandler and Ed Novitski first defined meiotic drive as a profound evolutionary force in natural populations. My talk will focus on our work on different mechanisms of meiotic drive in male and female meiosis, and how these conflicts profoundly shape centromere and chromatin packaging proteins, using Drosophila as a model system.


2022 Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal: Michael Lynch

May 12, 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

Mutation, drift, and the origin of cellular features

Although natural selection is a pervasive evolutionary force, it is not all powerful. The paths open vs. closed to evolutionary exploitation are dictated by the population-genetic environment, which varies substantially among phylogenetic lineages.


2022 Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education: Dara Ruiz-Whalen

May 9, 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT

Empowering Collaborations: Laboratory opportunities for scientists and educators

Through theory grounded in education and social sciences, we are able to highlight aspects of science communication that open avenues for meaningful experiences for both scientists and science educators. These affiliations are designed to launch exciting classroom projects and enhance student entry into the STEM research pipeline.


2022 Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education: Alana O’Reilly

May 10, 2:00–3:00 p.m. EDT

Nurture, don’t weed: Broadening scientific impact through cultural infusion

Scientific training operates on a hierarchy paradigm, with presumably naive trainees selected via an aggressive, sequential weed-out process conducted by advanced scientific leaders. Unsurprisingly, this process rapidly eliminates trainees from underprepared backgrounds, despite their high potential for innovative, creative discovery. Our work challenges the hierarchy paradigm, instead putting project leadership directly in the hands of those naive trainees, encouraging them to embrace their identity, leverage their cultural and life experiences, and integrate these key social and societal factors into development of novel research. Spoiler: it works!

2021 Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal: Ruth Lehmann

Wednesday, April 28, 1-2 p.m. EDT

Germ cells are forever

Germ cells are the only cells in our body destined to generate a completely new organism. I will be discussing how primordial germ cells are set aside from other cells in the body to fulfill their unique function in reproduction and how we have started to probe the quality control mechanisms that regulate the faithful transmission of cytoplasmic structures including mitochondria from the egg to the embryo.

2021 George W. Beadle Award: Chao-ting Wu

Thursday, April 29, 1-2 p.m. EDT

From Transvection and Pairing to Ultraconservation and Amazon Prime

More than ever before, the implications of our work in genetics are felt in the communities we serve. This presentation will trace one such journey from transvection and pairing to ultraconservation and then Amazon Prime.

Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education: Edward J. Smith

Wednesday, May 5, 1-2 p.m. EDT

Culturally Aware Research Education: Pay Attention to the Differences.

What if we bring our hypothesis-testing, resource-development approach as scientists to our research-training efforts? 87 PhDs to-date help us provide some answers at Virginia Tech to this important question. They also provide a community-based approach to diversifying the biomedical workforce beyond the boundaries of one’s lab, department, interdisciplinary program, college, and university.

GSA Medal: Douglas Koshland

Tuesday, May 11, 2–3 p.m. EDT

Genetics of chromosome biology: to null or not to null

A holy grail of genetic studies of biological processes is to isolate and characterize null alleles of relevant genes. In this lecture I will provide past and present examples of the critical importance of alternative alleles in elucidating important features of chromosome biology and to inform on the future of genetics in the CRISPR-dominated world.

Edward Novitski Prize: Feng Zhang

Wednesday, May 26, 12-1 p.m. EDT

RNA-Guided DNA Insertion with CRISPR-Associated Transposases

Over the past few years, there has been a growing appreciation for the natural diversity of CRISPR-Cas systems, adaptive immune systems microbes use to defend against invading foreign genetic elements. Components of CRISPR-Cas systems have also been found to be associated with transposable elements, creating programmable jumping genes. We have been working to characterize CRISPR-associated transposon (CAST) systems and understand the mechanism of these fascinating molecular machines.