This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
A gift for science

The Williamson Chair in Neurosci - ence has its first incumbent: Sara Lagal- war, who joined the Skidmore faculty this fall. Given by longtime trustee and benefactor Susan Kettering Williamson ’59 during Skidmore’s “Creative Thought, Bold Promise” campaign, the endowed professorship recognizes and supports faculty excellence in the field, honors the memory of her late husband, world- renowned Dartmouth neurologist and epilepsy expert Peter Williamson, and underscores her own deep commitment to Skidmore’s undergraduate education. Lagalwar earned her PhD at North- western University and went on for post- doctoral research at the University of Minnesota. Scope caught up with her just before she moved to Skidmore.

Why Skidmore? It’s been exciting to see the integration of neuroscience into small colleges in recent years, but I was still surprised to find that Skidmore has had an established program for years. It’s great to join a team of faculty already teaching in neurobiology and neuropsychology and conducting re- search with undergraduates.

What courses are you teaching? “Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience,” which prepares students for advanced courses in neuroscience and biology, and “Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration,” which delves into the neurobiological basis of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

How do you involve students in your research? In every step—from learning the biological concepts and research tools and techniques to formu-

Can you briefly describe your re- search? I am interested in cellular trig- gers of neurodegeneration (neuron death). Carefully regulated, highly com- plex signaling pathways control the nor- mal functioning of neurons throughout our lives, but individuals with neuro- logical disease have slight alter- ations to these pathways. If we can pinpoint early on in a pa- tient’s life what alterations are occurring and how they af- fect the cellular path- ways, we may be able to maintain normal function in the neu- rons and prevent neuronal death.

So, will



lating hypotheses, from conducting lab experiments and analyzing and inter- preting the data to potentially writing manuscripts for publication.

we see progress on Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s is a challenging disease because there is no easily identifiable cause. But I’m opti- mistic. Research is growing rapidly, and the technology with which we can comb through genomes has exploded. I think it’s a matter of time before we may be able to assess a per- son’s likelihood of de- veloping sporadic (nonfamilial) Alzheimer’s.

What would you like the average person to under-

stand about the disease? Alzheimer’s is so devastating because it slowly pro- gresses through the brain, triggering new symptoms as it goes—from early minor memory loss to later major changes in

personality and behavior. It is difficult to watch this happen in a loved one, but important to remember that it’s a conse- quence of disease. Friends and family can be a huge resource by sharing their stories with each other and with re- searchers.

How can colleges and universities educate more scientists? Science is such a highly dynamic and creative field of study, and we should present it to stu- dents that way. The more we can involve them in research, present them with cut- ting-edge literature, and give them novel problems to solve, the more students will become passionate about science. Skid- more has already created this type of en- vironment, and I am looking forward to being a part of it. —KG

FALL 2012 SCOPE 13


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72