Women Symposium

Date: April 22-24
Link: http://davidhkochtheater.com/moreinfoWITW.html

The 2015 Application is Available

Second-semester freshmen, rising juniors, and rising seniors are eligible to apply. The deadline for applying for admission to the WINS program for Fall 2015 is May 29, 2015. Acceptances will be sent out in June 2015.

WINS 2015 Application

Featured Women in Science

NYU Female Social Scientist of the Month: Chiye Aoki

rnagle.jpgWINS Profile:

Dr. Chiye Aoki is a NYU Professor of Neural Science and Biology. She received her PhD from the Rockefeller University while working with Dr. Philip Siekevitz. Her work showed that there is a functional link between neuronal activity, second messengers, and phosphorylation of a cytoskeletal protein called MAP2 during the critical period of visual cortex development. For her postdoctoral training, Dr. Aoki worked with Dr. Virginia Pickel at the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Weill Cornell Medical College where she used electron microscopy to visualize two molecules simultaneously in order to look at multiple molecular interactions at synapses.

Dr. Aoki first decided to pursue a career as a scientist during her sophomore year of college. Having gone to a school where there were opportunities for small research-based courses, it was in a class taught by a successful female faculty that she had her first experience learning how to formulate a hypothesis, testing it, and reforming it. The following year during the summer before her junior year she volunteered in the lab of a scientist who left the field of business in order to explore the human psyche, her first experience in a neuroscience lab that left her hooked. From then on, it was straight forward: applying to graduate and finding the one that would support her questions of interest involving the neurobiological basis of individual differences. Though her PhD took 6 years, she had the valuable experience of pioneering this field of neuroscience. During this time, she also published a Scientific American article on the critical period of development and felt that she found a niche of neuroscience that was hers.

When asked about female inspirations, Dr. Aoki claimed that her grandmother was a strong role model for her. She had always seen her with a tape measurer around her neck and admired her mathematical mind and skill in making clothes. She also developed a mutually beneficial relationship with Dr. Pickel, her advisor during her postdoc, who supported her research and promoted her ascension to becoming an Assistant Professor. In general, Dr. Aoki claims to have been lucky to have great mentorship, which plays an important role in scientific success. She had mentors that gave her the perfect balance of freedom and support, including Nobel Prize winner Torsten Wiesel, who advised her to make herself marketable by learning a technique that no one else can do in order to stay at the edge of the frontier. IN her case, this technique was dual immuno-electron microscopy.

Before coming to NYU, Dr. Aoki had taught Chemical Neuroanatomy at Cornell and was a student in the course, Neurobiology, at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. These experiences helped her form the class that she teaches at NYU: Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (CMN). For the longest time she had been the only NYU faculty member with a neurochemistry background to teach that part in CMN. In the past, she taught a special topics course on synaptogenesis and would, in the future, like to offer another special topics course called Adolescence as a Critical Period for Plasticity.

On top of her duties to NYU as a professor, Dr. Aoki is also one of the directors of the BP-ENDURE program. She initiated this program at NYU when she wanted to expand NYU’s research opportunities to actual NYU students, which had been previously been funded by NSF but was limited to students outside of NYU in order spread the wealth to students from smaller colleges and underrepresented backgrounds. She had been twice denied funding for this under the rationale that NYU was a wealthy place and the underrepresented population was just not big enough. When applying for funding for the program the third time, she teamed up with Hunter College and this time successfully received funding for what is now the BP-ENDURE program. This is an NIH-funded program supporting Hunter and NYU students from underrepresented backgrounds to do neuroscience research and pursue a PhD in the field.

Here are some of Dr. Aoki’s words of wisdom to women pursuing careers in science: “A career in science is really wonderful in that for most situations there is a great deal of flexibility. Whatever you want to do… all paths are available. Regardless of what it is said about women in science, and science in general, I think women in science should go forth without any hesitation, without any worry about what is going to happen, disregarding what is going on in the news. Just remember that in the moments where you are still in the lab at midnight questioning your motives, I feel that the way I survived was by making sure my personal life was happy and healthy.”

WINS would like to thank Dr. Aoki for giving our Fall 2014 Lecture titled “The Neurobiological Basis for Individuality in Coping Mechanisms of Stress.”