The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) has held annual meetings for 112 years for global scientists—from young investigators (high school and undergraduates) to mid-career and senior researchers—to convene, connect, share, and present their data. Drs. Lizabeth A. Allison and Shantá D. Hinton frequently attend these meetings, with their undergraduate and Master’s researchers. For the April 2019 ASBMB in Orlando, Florida, they joined forces as an “Allison and Hinton Labs Duo” to help defray the cost for each lab, which allowed more undergraduates to attend and present their research; and to showcase the strong program in biochemistry and molecular biology within the Biology department at William & Mary. The undergraduates participated in a poster competition (Image 1) and the general poster sessions (Images 2, 3, and 4). Students (Allison Lab: Sri Harshini Malapati ’19 and Xiaopeng Sun ’19; and Hinton Lab: Andy Mattei ‘19, Kirstin Reed ‘20 and Ashley Zhang ’20) travelled and roomed together, allowing them to develop friendships that they had not established in the halls of the Integrated Science Center, and providing support during the meeting, which had over 7000 participants. Duo Lab members were also able to reconnect with Dr. Allison’s previous undergraduate and Master’s student Cyril Anyetei-Anum ’16 (BS) and ’18 (Master’s) (Image 5), who is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. The undergraduates enjoyed hearing about his perspective as a Ph.D. student and appreciated the mentorship he provided.
A highlight of the meeting for students was a private dinner with one of the awardees and keynote speakers, Dr. Nicholas K. Tonks (Image 6), the former postdoctoral advisor of Dr. Hinton. Dr. Tonks was awarded the prestigious Earl and Thressa Stadtman Distinguished Scientist Award for 31 years of outstanding achievement in basic research, starting with the isolation of the first protein tyrosine phosphatase 31 years ago when Dr. Tonks was a post-doc in Dr. Edmond Fisher’s lab at the University of Washington (Edmond H. Fischer along with his collaborators Edwin G. Krebs and Alfred Gillman were awarded the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on reversible phosphorylation). The Allison and Hinton Labs Duo attended Dr. Tonks’ award ceremony and seminar, and dined with him at an Italian restaurant, where he shared his journey as a scientist, his future aspirations for the protein tyrosine phosphorylation field, and provided lots of advice—full of humorous and inspirational anecdotes—to help them succeed in their careers. These are the transformational experiences that our Biology undergraduate researchers are fortunate to participate in and will cherish for life (Image 7).