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Martina Newell-Mcgloughlin, Biotech Powerhouse, Wins UC Davis Meyer Award

June 29, 2001

Martina Newell-McGloughlin, the "driving force" of biotechnology education at the University of California, Davis, has won this year's James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award from the UC Davis Academic Federation. Newell-McGloughlin, who holds the Academic Federation position of academic coordinator, is director of the UC Davis Biotechnology Program and the UC-wide Life Sciences Informatics Program.

"We're so thrilled in our office, because we know how hard she works and her dedication to the campus and to biotechnology," said Judith Kjelstrom, associate director of the biotechnology program.

Newell-McGloughlin has given presentations on biotechnology to bodies ranging from local farm bureaus to the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and the United Nations Panel for Sustainable Agriculture. She's been "pied" at the Commonwealth Club and nearly tear-gassed at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. But she's still an enthusiastic and charismatic advocate for biotech education.

She is not only the biotechnology program's director but its inspiration and driving force, according to her nomination papers. Recruited to the UC Davis program in 1989, at one point during the early 1990s budget cuts left her as the program's only employee. Now she has a staff of seven to run the two programs.

The biotechnology program promotes biotechnology research on and off campus. It fosters links between the university, industry and public agencies, and runs educational and outreach programs. As a result of Newell-McGloughlin's efforts, UC Davis offers an undergraduate major in biotechnology. Graduate students can take a Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology (DEB).

The program continues to develop new and innovative courses. This summer, it's training community college instructors in the booming field of bioinformatics, so that they can develop courses for their own students. Bioinformatics blends biology, computer science and math so that scientists can make sense of big chunks of data such as the human genome sequence.

The Life Sciences Informatics program offers matching grants to UC researchers working with companies to develop, apply or test informatics tools. The UC Office of the President established the program in 1999. It has awarded grants for research such as precision management of cotton yields in the San Joaquin Valley; using "gene chips" to study cancer and other diseases; and computerizing medical records.

Newell-McGloughlin has published two books, with a third in preparation, and numerous scientific papers. Her most recently published book, with Jim Burke of Dublin, Ireland, is a history of agricultural biotechnology.

The James H. Meyer Award is presented to Academic Federation members with a distinguished career in research and/or public service. Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef will present the $1,000 award at a ceremony in the fall.

Editor's note: A picture of Newell-McGloughlin is available. Contact the News Service for details.

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