Four Women Recognized as Emerging Leaders by Nature

Four women were among the 11 early-to-mid career scientists recognized as emerging leaders in their field by Nature, an international journal of science. One of the four teaches in the United States and one of the four received her Ph.D. in the United States. According to the journal, the honorees’ “initiative, curiosity and flexibility have given them an edge in a competitive research environment.”

Sarah Garfinkel is a professor of neuroscience and psychiatry at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex. She researches how humans’ awareness of heartbeat rhythms effects factors such as their anxiety levels, emotional learning, sleep quality, and racial bias. She is one of the world’s foremost experts on “interoception,” which is the felt sense of one’s internal organs.

Dr. Garkfinkel earned a Ph.D. from the University of Sussex where she studied memory and pharmacology.

Silvia Marchesan is an associate professor at the University of Trieste in Italy. She studies antimicrobial peptides which are made of chains of amino acids and are the first line of defense against invading pathogens. She works with short peptides that are only three amino acids long and switches the chirality of the individual amino acids. She compares the process to “putting a right-hand finger on a left hand to see what kind of hand we get, and how this new hand behaves differently.”

Dr. Marchesan holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Edinburgh.

Melissa Merritt is an assistant professor and researcher at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. Her research consists of studying the genetic drivers of ovarian cancer. She developed a methodical approach to evaluating the risk of dietary factors in cancer that is now being used to study the links between food and tumors. She also has discovered that women with invasive ovarian cancer have a 30 percent lower risk of dying if they take aspirin or ibuprofen. She is currently studying how chemicals in various products affect a woman’s chances of developing endometrial cancer.

Dr. Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia and a Ph.D. in population health from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Taylor Schildgen is a geologist at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and the University of Potsdam. She researches how climate transforms the Earth’s surface over thousands of years. She uses a new technique to date landforms, by measuring the presence of rare isotopes known as cosmogenic nuclides. This allows geologists to estimate a rock samples’s age and rate of change over millennia.

Dr. Schildgen holds a bachelor’s degree in geosciences from Williams College in Massachusetts, a master’s degree from the University of Edinburg, and a Ph.D. in geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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