Biologist Hake Wins Two Major Awards

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Asst. Prof. Laura E. Hake (Biology), a second-year member of the faculty, has won prestigious awards in support of her research and in recognition of her promise as a scientist.

Hake has been selected for a Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professorship, which she will begin next September, and has won a major grant from the American Cancer Society.

The five-year Luce appointment provides full salary support and additional work-related expenses for promising women faculty in the sciences and engineering. There have been 68 Clare Booth Luce Professors since the program was established by the estate of Clare Booth Luce through the Henry R. Luce Foundation in the spring of 1989.

Hake's three-year ACS grant totals $396,000. It supports her research project, "Control of Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation."

"I'm very gratified to have been chosen as a Luce Professor and as a recipient for funding from the American Cancer Society," said Hake. "The competition for these honors is quite intense. Both are seen as important recognition of, and encouragement for, persons early in their academic careers. I'm delighted to have earned them."

Asst. Prof. Laura Hake (Biology).

"We are happy, and fortunate, to have been able to attract as fine a young scientist as Laura Hake," said Assoc. Prof. William Petri, the Biology chairman. "Her outstanding letters of recommendation are all proving to be spot-on. With both the ACS grant and the Luce award, she has certainly started her career at Boston College in a spectacular way."

Cytoplasmic polyadenylation is a crucial mechanism for gene regulation in the early development of all organisms. Hake studies its effects in frog eggs and embryos.

"This type of research could have important future applications, because discoveries made about this process in frogs can be applied to less tractable organisms such as mice," Hake said. "My research is applicable to the cancer problem, because it is contributing to our knowledge of a basic growth control mechanism."

Petri said the University nominated Hake as a candidate for the Luce Professorship in part for her research, which she published in Cell , a major biology journal.

"Her paper was characterized as representing a major breakthrough for understanding cytoplasmic polyadenylation, which is a major topic and very hot area in cellular and molecular biology," Petri said. "But it's worth pointing out that Laura also has earned a lot of respect from her peers. They extol her as a superb molecular biologist, a dazzling speaker and helpful to other students and post-doctoral fellows."

Hake is the second Biology faculty member to have been selected as a Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor. Asst. Prof. Donna Fekete, who has since left for Purdue University, was named in 1993.

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