GE and Science Prize

2009 Grand Prize Winner

Michael Crickmore

Michael Crickmore, a North American regional winner, won the grand-prize for his essay "The Molecular Basis of Size Differences." Dr. Crickmore was born in Flint, MI, but as a child he moved with his mother and brother to suburban Los Angeles and finally to Philadelphia. He became serious about science only after college while working as a technician in Ken Irvine's lab at Rutgers University. Inspired by the ideas of Dragana Rogulja, an Irvine lab graduate student studying size control, Dr. Crickmore did his graduate work on size in Richard Mann's lab at Columbia University. But his long-term interests lie in understanding how the brain works, something he is now trying to address as a postdoctoctoral fellow in Leslie Vosshall's lab at The Rockefeller University in New York City, where he lives with his wife Dragana and their little boy Cy.

Regional Winners

Michaela Gack

Europe: Michaela Gack for her essay "Regulation of RIG-I-Mediated Antiviral Innate Immunity." Dr. Gack was born in Coburg, Germany. She studied molecular medicine at the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, and in September 2005 joined the newly established exchange program between the graduate training program of the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg and Harvard Medical School (HMS) in Boston. Dr. Gack completed a Ph.D. project in the laboratory of Jae Jung at the New England Primate Center of HMS. Her postdoctoral studies were conducted at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Since April 2009, she has been an Independent Instructor at the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics of HMS , where she continues to investigate innate immune responses against viral infections and viral immune evasion mechanisms.

Masahiro Kitano

Japan: Masahiro Kitano for his essay "Imaging of Rab5 Activity Identifies Essential Regulators for Phagosome Maturation." Dr. Kitano was born in 1980 and grew up in Bieicho, Japan, a town famous for beautiful scenic hills. He attended Kyoto University, where he received a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical science in 2003 and a master's degree in physical and organic chemistry in 2005. A strong interest in molecular imaging led him to join Michiyuki Matsuda's laboratory at Osaka University, where he developed a biosensor to identify regulators of the phagosome maturation process. Dr. Kitano completed his Ph.D. in September 2008 and is currently studying the dynamics of immune cells in vivo as a Special Postdoctoral Researcher in the laboratory of Takaharu Okada at the RIKEN Yokahama Institute.

Tommy Kaplan

All Other Countries: Tommy Kaplan for his essay "From DNA Sequence to Chromatin Dynamics: Computational Analysis of Transcriptional Regulation." Dr. Kaplan received his B.Sc. in Computer Science and Cognitive Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. His Ph.D. research, in computational biology, focused on various aspects of transcriptional regulation, under the supervision of Nir Friedman and Hanah Margalit at the Hebrew University, and in close collaboration with Ollie Rando at Harvard/University of Massachusetts. Since 2002, Dr. Kaplan has been involved in teaching the combined B.Sc./M.Sc. program in Computer Science and Life Sciences at the Hebrew University. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow in Mike Eisen's lab at the University of California, Berkeley, where he develops computational models to understand the evolution and control of gene expression during the early developmental stages of fruit fly embryos. In his spare time, Dr. Kaplan enjoys mountain biking, reading, and hiking in Northern California with his wife and two sons.