Sparks, a retired research fellow at Corteva Agriscience (a Dow AgroSciences) in Indianapolis, Ind., will receive an inscribed plaque and a cash award at ESA's annual meeting in November, to be held in Denver, Colo., announced Michelle Smith, ESA president. The presentation will take place Nov. 2 during ESA's Awards Breakfast featuring the Founders' Memorial Lecture.
“This is a huge honor and directly due to Bruce's influence,” said Sparks.
This award recognizes creative entomologists who have demonstrated the ability to find alternative solutions to problems that significantly impact entomology. Sparks is the first scientist from the crop protection industry to receive this award.
“Tom was my first graduate student, receiving his doctorate at UC Riverside and later doing a sabbatical leave at UC Davis,” said Hammock, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) in 1980 from UC Riverside.
Sparks received his doctorate in entomology in December 1978. His emphasis: insect endocrinology/biochemistry and insecticide toxicology.
“His free-thinking, as well as his love for and intensity about science, characterized his career," Hammock said. "I remember an evening when he brought a 'Tandy' computer over and envisioned a concept of machine learning to optimize structures of drugs and agricultural chemicals that were too complex to evaluate with classical structure activity relationships."
“Fifty years later this is mainline biological chemistry,” Hammock pointed out, adding that Sparks started in biological control and then moved to insect physiology and toxicology (Hammock's lab) while in graduate school at UC Riverside. After graduate school, Sparks served as a professor of insecticide biochemistry and toxicology with the Louisiana State University's Department of Entomology. He then headed to Indianapolis to join Eli Lilly and Co., which shortly thereafter became DowElanco, then Dow AgroSciences, and finally Corteva Agriscience.
Sparks' lifelong focus is on developing green pesticides, Hammock said. “His greatest success of many successes has been with a complex group of what are known as polyketides. Specifically, Tom pioneered the spinosids as a new class of selective pesticides for integrated pest management (IPM). Tom was a leader in this program from the concept of natural product compounds through structural optimization to integration into pest management and resistance management programs nationally and internationally.”
Sparks' research interests include
- Agrochemical (especially. Insecticides) Discovery and Lead Generation
- Insecticide biochemistry and mode of action
- Insecticide resistance and resistance management
- Cheminformatics and quantitative structure activity relationships (QSAR) and its application to lead generation and pesticide discovery.
- History and philosophy of agrochemical discovery
“Dr. Sparks is internationally recognized as a leader and innovator in the field of insect biochemistry and toxicology, especially as it relates to the discovery of new crop protection compounds,” wrote Ronda Hamm of Corteva Agriscience, Indianapolis, who headed the nomination team. “This latter point supported by his many awards relating to crop protection discovery but is highlighted in particular by two prior awards-- R&D Scientist of the Year in 2009, the first (and so far only) for any entomologist or for that matter, any scientist in the field of agriculture. More recently Dr. Sparks was the first industry scientist (and entomologist) to receive the American Chemical Society AGRO Division Innovation in Chemistry of Agriculture Award (2015).”
A member of ESA for more than 40 years, Sparks “has a history of bringing new ideas and innovative approaches to the discovery of new insect control agents, resulting in several commercial products,” Hamm pointed out. “Through his innovative application of state-of-the art technologies, Dr. Sparks has succeeded in catalyzing the discovery and development of natural product-based compounds for the control of pest insects. One particularly relevant measure of Dr. Sparks' innovation is patents--unusually for a non-chemist, he has 47 patents covering a wide range of chemistries and ideas as it applies to the control of agricultural pests.”
Hammock praised Sparks for his innovative accomplishments. “For the past several decades, Dr. Sparks' goal has been to provide new, greener, tools that will allow growers and farmers around the world to feed an expanding global population," Hammock said. "To this end, Dr. Sparks employed an array of innovative approaches to the discovery of new insect control agents. His innovations are well-illustrated by his ‘what if..' questions and his answers and results from those questions.”
“What if you could simplify large complex macrolide antibiotic-like compounds to make them synthetically accessible,” Hammock wrote in his letter of support. “This would be a radically different innovation paving a conceptual pathway for others in the agrochemical and pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Sparks accomplished this through collaboration with two colleagues using computer-aided molecular design to essentially reverse-engineer the spinosyn structure ultimately demonstrating, for the first time ever, that the large macrocyclic structure could be mimicked by simpler, smaller synthetic motifs.”
Keith Wing, an independent industrial biochemistry consultant who was Hammock's second Ph.D student from UC Riverside and UC Davis (and who subsequently worked for Rohm and Haas Ag and DuPont Ag Chemicals and Central Research), also praised Sparks' accomplishments. "I've known Tom as a friend and colleague since 1976," Wing related. "We started our research in Bruce's lab working on proteins affecting juvenile hormone metabolism, but because of Bruce's/University of California's broad entomological and chemical training, we both developed multifaceted toxicological interests and methodological approaches to problems. As Tom and I were grinding through course and benchwork on our research, we were getting a skill set and thinking mode that was very unusual in both its scope and depth. I was always struck by Tom's creativity, dedication to his work and attention to detail. Much of my own thesis work was built on the precedents Tom set."
"Through the years Tom and I remained close personal friends and would discuss what we saw happening in the agrochemical industry, often through American Chemical Society AGRO division work," Wing said, lauding "Tom's variety and volume of contributions to insecticide science. For an industrial entomologist/biochemist, Tom is an unusually prolific contributor to both patent and scientific literature, and is an editor of relevant scientific journals."
"Tom is an excellent colleague to his peers and mentor to younger scientists in our field," Wing said, "and has made huge societal contributions, such as his work in the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC), providing discipline and structure in an important area of agricultural science."
Sparks is the second Hammock lab alumnus to receive the coveted Nan-Yao Su Award. ESA selected Bryony Bonning, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Hammock lab and now a professor at Iowa State University, for the award in 2013. Walter Leal, former chair of the entomology department and now a UC Davis distinguished professor with the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, won the award in 2011.
(Editor's Note: See list of other 2021 ESA winners)
In announcing the winner of the international competition, Professor Christopher John Smith, editor-in-chief of the journal Foods, described Zhang as a “rising star in the field of food science and technology.”
Zhang focuses his research on foods for health and wellness with an emphasis on the roles of bioactive lipids in colonic inflammation and colon cancer. He served as a postdoc in the Hammock laboratory from 2010 to 2013.
“This is fantastic news,” said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “I am so pleased over the award recognizing Guodong for his contributions to nutrition, cancer and gastrointestinal health. Since graduate school, he has based his work on innovative physiology, nutrition, and biochemistry, with all studies on a firm analytical basis. In our laboratory, he was the perfect postdoctoral fellow, bringing new technologies to UC Davis and rapidly integrating into UC Davis projects."
"Guodong was broadly collaborative at Davis and internationally,” Hammock noted. "He was a wonderful mentor and colleague to others in the lab while here, and has continued since, leaving not only to collaborate here but to forge wonderful international collaborations. Guodong is a star in all ways. He sent us two outstanding postgraduate scientists Yuxin Wang and Weicang Wang (trained in Zhang's UMass lab), who, like their mentor, have been wonderfully innovative and productive scientists at Davis.”
As the award recipient, Zhang will receive an honorarium of 2000 Swiss francs, or $2,206 in American funds; publication of a peer-reviewed paper in Foods; and an engraved plaque.
Zhang has an “outstanding publication record, comprising 73 publications in peer-reviewed international journals and 4 international patents,” said Smith, who also called attention to his grants. Zhang serves as the principal investigator (PI) of grants totaling $1.7 million, and he is the co-PI of grants totaling $5.1 million. “This is an outstanding achievement in today's competitive environment,” Smith said.
Guodong holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry (2003) from Xi'an Jiaotong University, China, and a master's degree in chemistry (2005) from the National University of Singapore. He received his doctorate in food science in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As a postdoctoral fellow in the Hammock laboratory, "my research was about bioactive lipids on angiogenesis and cancer," Guodong said. Reflecting on his years in the Hammock lab, he said: "During this period, 2010-2013, I received comprehensive training in pharmacology and oncology. I really want to thank the mentorship and support from Dr. Hammock: for taking the time to discuss the experiments, provide career advice, help me with personal issues, and hike together in the Bay Area. The days in Davis are some of my best life moments.”
Zhang joined the faculty of the UMass Department of Food Science as an assistant professor in 2013, and in 2014, joined the faculty of the UMass Molecular and Cell Biology Program. In 2019, he advanced to associate professor with tenure.
The recipient of a number of high honors and awards, Zhang won the 2020 Samuel Cate Prescott Award from the Institute of Food Technologists, and the 2019 Young Scientist Research Award from the American Oil Chemists' Society.
Foods is an international, scientific, peer-reviewed, open access journal of food science and is published monthly online by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).
The 10 Fellows were announced today.
Hoover, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in June, 1997, studied with major professors Sean Duffey (1943-1997) and Bruce Hammock. Hoover joined the PSU faculty as an assistant professor in 1998, achieving full professor in 2010.
Hoover's areas of expertise include biology and ecology of invasive species, insect-microbial symbiosis, tritrophic interactions, insect virology, and pollination of forest trees.
She is active in PSU's Center for Chemical Ecology, Center for Pollinator Research, and the Insect Biodiversity Center.
“Hoover is internationally recognized for uncovering detailed mechanisms of how phytochemicals reduce mortality by baculoviruses through physiological impacts on the larva's midgut (epithelial cells and peritrophic matrix,” said nominator Gary Felton, professor and head of the PSU Department of Entomology. Hoover and her co-advisors “patented baculovirus formulation additives that counteract these physiological effects, and thus increase the sensitivity of larvae to infections.”
“Kelli was a delight to have in the laboratory at UC Davis,” said Hammock, now a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “She started her Ph.D. at Davis at an exciting time when we were trying to move recombinant baculoviruses into practical agriculture as green pesticides. Among the laboratories of Sean Duffey, Susumu Maeda, Kevin Heinz and extramural collaborators around the world, we had an exciting critical mass ranging, including virology, peptide chemistry, scorpion venoms, genetic engineering, pest management and others.”
“Kelli's interest in tritrophic interactions and her outgoing and engaging personality were just what was needed to pull the team together,” said Hammock, a 2010 Fellow. “As one would expect, Kelli's talents in science and leadership have served her well at Penn State. There her baculovirus work transitioned into a broader program in gypsy moth control and the invasion of the Asian longhorned beetle provided an opportunity to look at gut symbionts. Every project that Kelli touches seems to yield exciting results with practical implications. I am thrilled that the ESA has recognized what a star she is in our field.”
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Bryony Bonning, a professor at the University of Florida and a 2013 ESA Fellow, commented that “Kelli is so deserving of this award.”
“I worked with Kelli for two, delightful years at UC Davis, and was particularly impressed by the number of undergraduate students that she managed to mentor at the bench!” Bonning said. “Since then, she has established a stellar research program that has recently focused on both the fundamental biology and management solutions for invasive pests including Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and spotted lantern fly. Analysis of ALB semiochemicals resulted in a blend now sold by two companies and used in North America and Europe for ALB management."
“In collaboration with engineers, she has also spearheaded development of a method to prevent introduction of invasive species in the wood packing associated with international shipments,” Bonning noted. “This dielectric heating technology, used to treat and kill insects hidden in the wood packing, is at the stage of commercial equipment prototype. These examples reflect both the interdisciplinary breadth of Kelli's research program and the seamless melding of science to address fundamental questions that lead to practical solutions. This breadth of scope and ability to identify commercially useful components of the system is a relatively rare phenotype among entomologists! Further, Kelli is driven to engage the necessary parties (scientists, stakeholders, policy makers) toward implementation of strategies to prevent or manage the impact of invasive species on U.S. agriculture."
In his nomination letter, Felton, a 2014 ESA Fellow, said that Hoover excels in research, teaching, and service. “There are three key attributes that stand out in Dr. Hoover's research contributions: interdisciplinary, collaborative, and integrative,” he wrote. “Hoover's program encompasses research, education, outreach and service related to the biology of and solutions for invasive species threats, in forest, ornamental, and agricultural systems. She integrates basic and applied research in multi-trophic interactions, microbial symbioses, invasion biology, and insect physiology.”
For 19 years, Hoover has collaborated with industrial engineers and national and international regulatory agencies “to develop a novel technology (patents pending) to reduce the risk of pathways that can introduce alien forest pests through international trade,” Felton wrote. “She has used her studies to create a platform for education and training of a diverse group of undergraduates, graduate students, and post-graduate scholars. Since Hoover's interdisciplinary approach allows her to interact with and serve as a bridge between multiple disciplines and diverse stakeholders, she has initiated broad networking opportunities for members of these communities by organizing and leading multi-disciplinary research teams, symposia, and international conferences.”
Asian Longhorned Beetle, Gypsy Moth
“The vast majority of Hoover's studies focuses on basic and applied research on invasive species, such as the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and gypsy moth and most recently the spotted lanternfly,” Felton wrote. “Hoover and collaborators investigated semiochemical communication in ALB in an effort to help regulatory agencies detect and monitor ALB in the field, especially at low densities. Hoover and colleagues took the male-produced volatile sex pheromone (discovered by USDA/ARS) and conducted years of basic lab and field research to produce a commercially available ALB lure (pheromones and kairomones) and trapping system, which primarily captures virgin females. The blend developed by Hoover and her team is sold by two major pheromone companies and has been used in North America, Germany, Britain, Switzerland and Italy. She and collaborators also characterized behavioral responses to a putative female-produced trail pheromone that elicits following behavior by males.”
Hoover is also heavily involved in preventing the introduction of invasive species. Her research draws support from governmental grant programs, commodity groups and the private sector. She is currently the principal investigator or co-PI on grants totaling $10 million, with $1.62 million directly supporting her program, Felton said, adding that she has actively collaborated with researchers in Europe, China, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
Felton described her as “an effective educator and mentor of the next generation of scientists.”
She has mentored 43 undergraduates, 11 PhD and 10 masters students, and 13 postdoctoral scholars, “many of whom have received prestigious awards and fellowships.”
High Impact Interdisciplinary Research
“While making new discoveries through basic research, she continues to strive to apply the outcomes of that research by actively engaging other scientists, stakeholder groups, and policymakers within Pennsylvania, nationally, and globally to make a difference -- to prevent and/or manage the consequences of invasive species on our ecosystems,” Felton wrote. “Her ability to conduct high impact interdisciplinary research and integrate transformational and translation research is truly outstanding.”
Born in Lubbock, Texas, but raised in the south San Francisco area,Kelli received her bachelor of science degree in 1979 from UC Berkeley, with honors, majoring in the biology of natural resources. She obtained her master's degree in biology, with an emphasis on entomology, from San Jose State University in 1992 before joining the doctoral program at UC Davis. After a year as a President's Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley, she joined the faculty in the Department of Entomology at PSU in 1998.
Active in ESA since 1996, Hoover has judged student competitions at 10 national meetings. She has organized numerous national or branch meeting symposia and served as a subject editor for Environmental Entomology. She chaired or co-chaired organizing committees for three annual meetings of the International Society for Invertebrate Pathology and held the office of treasurer for four years.
Fellows of ESA are individuals who have made outstanding contributions to entomology— via research, teaching, extension, administration, military service, and public engagement and science policy —and whose career accomplishments serve to inspire all entomologists, according to the ESA, a worldwide organization with a membership of some 7000.
By Lisa Howard
UC Davis Health
See Video on YouTube (includes segment with Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor)
Researchers at UC Davis are developing a new type of pain medication from an unusual source — tarantula venom.
The project is part of the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative, aimed at ending opioid addiction and creating non-addictive therapies to treat pain.
Vladimir Yarov-Yarovoy, a professor of physiology and membrane biology, and Heike Wulff, a professor of pharmacology, are leading the 20-person team using computational biology to turn a poisonous peptide into one that can relieve pain. Peptides are smaller versions of proteins.
“Spiders and scorpions have millions of years of evolution optimizing peptide, protein and small-molecule poisons in their venom, which we can take advantage of,” said Bruce Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology, who is working on the new pain reliever. “The same venoms that can cause pain and neurological dysfunction can also help nerves work better and reduce pain.”
Approximately 20 percent of adults in the U.S., around 50 million, are affected by chronic pain. About 11 million are affected by high-impact chronic pain, defined as pain that lasts three months or longer and restricts a significant activity, like being unable to work outside the home, go to school or do household chores.
A few non-opioid medications are available to help those with chronic pain, and complementary or integrative health approaches can help. In general, though, people with chronic pain have limited options for pain relief.
“For strong pain, drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin are just not strong enough. Opioids are strong enough, but they have the problem of tolerance development and addiction,” said Wulff.
Opioid addiction and misuse in the United States surged in recent years, leading to a significant health crisis. In 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses.
“What we need are new medications, new therapies with improved risk profiles,” said David Copenhaver, a member of the team and director of Cancer Pain Management and Supportive Care at UC Davis Health. “There's been a push to develop other, better, safer, less addictive — or zero addictive — medication and therapeutics for pain management,” said Copenhaver, who is also the associate director for the Center for Advancing Pain Relief at UC Davis.
“Channels” key to new pain reliever
To create a non-addictive but strong pain medication, the researchers are focused on pain signals traveling on sensory neurons. To stop these signals, they have targeted a particular type of protein “channel” found on the cell membranes of neurons and muscles.
These channels, called voltage-gated sodium channels, play a crucial role in generating signals to nerves and muscles.
Nine different types of these channels have been identified in humans. The sodium symbol is Na, so the voltage-gated channels are referred to as Nav1.1 through Nav1.9.
The Nav1.7 channel is the one that interests pain scientists the most because it is a key source of pain transmission.
That's where the tarantula venom comes in. A peptide — a type of protein — found in the venom of the Peruvian green velvet tarantula blocks Nav1.7, preventing it from transmitting signals, including those for pain.
“The promise of a Nav1.7 inhibitor is that we would have something that is as effective as an opioid, but not addictive,” said Wulff, who specializes in preclinical therapeutics development targeting ion channels.
The challenge with the protein in the tarantula venom is that it doesn't just block Nav1.7 channels in the sensory nerves. In its natural form, the peptide blocks all Nav1.7 channels, including those in the muscles and the brain, meaning that it could cause terrible side effects.
Engineering a non-toxic protein
To solve this problem, the researchers are using an approach known as “toxineering.” They are trying to engineer — modify — the toxin in the venom to block pain signals but not create unwanted side effects.
To do this, they are using a computer program developed by the University of Washington called Rosetta. The complex modeling software lets the team create many different iterations of the tarantula peptide, which they can then synthesize and test in the lab.
“Using the Rosetta software, we can take a natural peptide and then redesign it and make it into a therapeutic,” said Yarov-Yarovoy, an expert in computational structural modeling of peptide toxins. “Our lead peptides already show efficacy at the level of morphine, but without the side effects of opioids.”
Their preliminary results are extremely promising, but a lot of work remains to be done. The potential therapeutic candidates will need to be tested in animals, and if found safe, carefully tested in humans. The researchers estimate any new medication is at least five years away.
“What Vladimir has put together is really fantastic because no one scientist could have any hope of tackling a project that is this hard,” Hammock said about the 20-person team. “But having a collection of people makes it fun and exciting, and I think it gives us a real chance at relieving pain.”
Additional team members include Karen Wagner, Jon T. Sack, Theanne Griffith, Scott Fishmann, Hai Nguyen, Daniel J. Tancredi, Nieng Yan, William Schmidt, Andre Ghetti, Neil Castle, Michael Pennington, Phuong Tran Nguyen, Brandon Harris, Diego Lopez Mateos, Robert Stewart and Parashar Thapa.
The tarantula venom research at UC Davis is funded by a $1.5 million grant from NIH initiative Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL). FOA Number: RFA-NS-19-010
Lisa Howard, Health News Office
UC Davis Health
4900 Broadway, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95820
The Staff Assembly will honor her and other award recipients at a ceremony at 5 p.m., Monday, Oct. 4 at the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center, said Tasha Burr and Danielle Kehler, co-chairs of the Citations of Excellence Committee. McReynolds will receive a $1500 check.
“Our nominee, a 10-year UC Davis employee and longtime scientist with a master's degree in pharmacology and a bachelor's degree in animal science, excels at program management, research administration, and research itself,” wrote nominators Bruce Hammock, forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and communications specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey.
“She was the lead author of research that may be ‘the missing link' as to why some COVID-19 patients recover and some don't,” they wrote. “Her innovative work on a blood plasma biomarker discovered in hospitalized COVID-19 patients may not only predict the severity of adult respiratory distress syndrome but further research may lead to inhibiting its progression. She initiated the collaborative research to test specialized pro?resolving mediators (SPM) for their therapeutic potential against COVID-19 in a preclinical model at Rutgers University. This ongoing study is expected to provide ‘proof-of-concept' for a novel treatment to COVID-19.”
The trio pointed out that “her expertise includes grants management (applying and budgeting), organizing program outreach, coordinating training grants for trainees funded by a multi-million national grant, and mentoring students, whether in the lab or in the classroom. Our nominee goes above and beyond what is expected of her. Her supervisor says she is ‘the most amazing person I've ever met. For her entire career at UC Davis, she has been a phenomenal asset to the laboratory and campus. In her role in the laboratory, she oversees an accountant who handles the complex budget problems of the federally funded UC Davis Superfund Program Project. This multi-college, multi-principal investigator program has essentially five separate NIH grants, each of which itself is multi-departmental and multi-college supported by three cores.”
In addition, McReynolds also helped establish a community research program on human and environmental health in Northern California with the Yurok Indian Tribe, and a research translation program with several state agencies to identify STEM opportunities between UC Davis and surrounding communities.
Coordinated National Meeting
Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and for nearly four decades has directed the UC Davis Superfund Research Program (funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) noted that in 2019-20, McReynolds coordinated the national meeting of the Superfund Programs with multiple state and federal agencies. “She played an integral and critical role in submitting a competing renewal for years 30-35 of the program. This massive effort involved integrating multiple budgets across campus and coordinating with NIH, the campus research office, and multiple colleges.”
“On all of these projects, her knowledge of accounting and grantsmanship, coupled with her personal skills (always congenial and eager to help) proved critical,” Hammock said. “She was involved even to the point of editing specific objectives to make the projects more integrated, which relied on her knowledge as a scientist as well.” This was on top of being office manager for the large Hammock research laboratory involving a team of multiple disciplines.
“During this time, she served as both the lab manager and the accountant/business manager, replacing a retiree,” Hammock noted.
The nominators pointed out that McReynolds is a doctoral candidate (now PhD graduate), wife, mother of two, and a community volunteer. Known for sharing her scientific expertise, she organized a “Science Day” with UC Davis and Davis primary schools; organized speakers for “Meet a Scientist”; judged Davis science fairs; helped struggling high school students with their science projects; and coached the Davis Youth Robotics Team.
“She balances her multiple difficult tasks with skill, efficiency and good humor,” the nominators wrote. “She is always eager to help, even to transporting a colleague's newly eclosed, out-of-season monarch butterfly to an overwintering site in Santa Cruz!”
'Brilliant Researcher and Wonderful Instructor'
Kimsey praised her work in teaching and mentoring students in his animal biology classes. “She has not only made their time and efforts highly productive in the research arena, but provides effective counseling on their career trajectories, how to balance personal life, kids and family with university life,” Kimsey said. “She is not only a brilliant researcher, a wonderful instructor for undergraduates that enter the laboratory, but is a dedicated and caring mentor. Her principal investigator has stated that she is possibly the most amazing person he has ever met. I very certainly concur in all regards.”
McReynolds, who received her doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology in June, initially sought a career as a veterinarian. She received her bachelor's degree in animal science from UC Davis in 1999, and her master's degree in animal science from Washington State University, Pullman, in 2001.
“After receiving a master's degree in animal science, I quickly realized that I had an interest and passion for understanding the roles of nutrition and environment on disease outcomes in both human and animal health,” McReynolds related. “Instead of continuing my research career in animal science, I left to gain experience in development therapeutics for humans and animals. My work in understanding the role of bioactive lipid mediators began in 2006 when I joined Arete Therapeutics, South San Francisco, as project manager to advance soluble epoxide inhibitors through clinical trials for treating hypertension. After leaving Arete, I joined Dr. Hammock's laboratory as a research administrator where I gained important experience in project management, budgeting and grants administration. Once my children were old enough to accommodate the often-inconsistent schedule of laboratory work, I continued my career goals of becoming a PhD scientist.”
McReynolds traced her interest in scientific research to her “formative years in a small town in western Kentucky, cataloging observations of animals in a notebook.”
Understanding the Roles of Lipid Mediators
McReynolds has studied the biological activity of lipid mediators for the past 12 years. “My current efforts focus on understanding the roles of lipid mediators in inflammation especially relating to pain and degenerative disease,” said McReynolds, who is a member of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the American Chemical Society. “My research focuses on developing tools for use in in vitro and in vivo knockout studies to understand their role in inflammation with a focus on mechanism of pharmacokinetics.”
McReynolds said her “career aspirations are to lead collaborative research programs that will use science to improve overall health outcomes by developing disruptive treatment or diagnostic capabilities to predict early responders/nonresponders to therapies,” she said, adding that “I approach problems and challenges now, not with a pass/fail approach, but with an understanding of how to address the problem at hand.”
“In my career, I strive to make significant contributions in advancing science to understand disease so that there are better treatment options for everyone; I strive to provide encouragement to women struggling to balance a family and career, to lead by example that it is possible to be a mom and scientist; I strive to motivate others, as I have been motivated by my mentors, that their fears are not too big to prevent them from reaching their goals; I strive to create a positive, collaborative work environment. Ultimately, I strive to share my enthusiasm for science and learning as well as unique background to advance a basic understanding of biology that will benefit global health outcomes for all.”
The Staff Assembly's annual awards program provides recognition for individual staff and staff teams “who have demonstrated outstanding achievement that go above and beyond the requirements outlined in their position descriptions.” Staff Assembly presents Individual awards in the categories of innovation, research, service, supervision and teaching; and team awards for project or program staff, office staff, or other similar groups.