28 Feb 2008

Lecture by Dr. Mary Ann Price

Lecture by Dr. Mary Ann Price
of the Developmental Signalling Unit
February 29 at Afuso Junior High School
Why I became a scientist

 Dr. Price began her lecture by passing out several samples of live Drosophila to a curious audience of about 60 students, explaining that although all of the samples are biologically categorized as Drosophila, their fly wings are not identical, and that the wings actually have different numbers of veins because of their pattering during development. Saying that her unit is using Drosophila as a model system, Dr. Price explained that the major interest of her research is the mechanisms cells use to decode extracellular signals during development. She added that inherited developmental disorders in humans result in such forms as skin cancer and polydactyly, a term used to describe having extra fingers and toes.

 For the remainder of her lecture, Dr. Price talked about her youth, surprising the students that she was born in Zama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, and spent four years in Okinawa with her family from 1984. An avid athlete whose first love was mathematics, Dr. Price said she was immensely inspired by her biology teacher in the U.S.A., as the enthusiastic teacher taught a young Dr. Price the pleasure of studying science. Showing the students an old photo of a DNA model she once made in school using gumdrops, Dr. Price said she had once thought of becoming a high school science teacher. She continued, however, that she decided to become a scientist after conducting a project on the structure of a stable form of sulfuric acid. Dr. Price said the project, which she worked on during the third and fourth year of her undergraduate study, made her realize the excitement of finding the first answer in the world to a question. Dr. Price said she has pursued research since then.

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Dr. Price
 

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Students pass around a Drosohila sample

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Students line up to ask Dr. Price questions

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Dr. Price receives a bouquet from one of the students