Category Archives: Sturff Heroes

Today America still dares to dream thanks to Martin Luther King Jr

martin-luther-king-jr-march-washingtonToday we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington August 28, 1963. This photo by Francis Miller courtesy of Getty Images shows the charismatic MLK Jr on the Mall in Washington D.C. This was a pivotal moment for the civil rights movement, and a powerful moment that continues to inspire courage for change in America.

Live. Equality. Justice. Fairness. Dream.

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Sturff Hero: why you should know Rosalind Franklin’s name

The famous photo 51 and the real story of DNA discovery

It has been 60 years since Watson and Crick announced their discovery of DNA.  It has been 51 years since they were awarded the Nobel prize for it, leaving out one of the most important people involved in its discovery. You see, Watson and Crick came up with the first correct model of DNA based largely on photographs of it. The most famous of these, Photo 51, is currently on display at Somerset House in London if you wish to behold this historical triumph in person.


But Watson and Crick didn’t take these photos themselves. It was the x-ray crystallography wizard, Rosalind Franklin, who captured the images of DNA that allowed Watson and Crick to work out its structure. Rosalind was working with Maurice Wilkins at the time, who was awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Watson and Crick.

Why was Rosalind’s role in the discovery of DNA ignored?

Some say it’s because Watson and Crick didn’t realize it was her work because Wilkins released it to them without her knowing. Others claim it was sexism of the times. Or perhaps it was a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind because Rosalind died tragically of Cancer at age 37, just four years before the Nobel Prize was awarded. But now we know to celebrate Rosalind Franklin’s achievements. Cheers to Google shining a spotlight on this extraordinary scientist on what would have been her 93rd birthday. Sturff also recognizes Rosalind Franklin as one of our great heroes!


Google Doodle’s image posted 25 July celebrates Rosalind Franklin who helped discover DNA

–Photograph of Rosalind Franklin working at the microscope thanks to Science Source–

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support marriage equality

If you expect equal rights for yourself…

Support equal rights for others.


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Sturff Heroes: 30s and fabulous women in science

Just published in Nature News: an exciting look at successful female scientists, our sturff heroes of the week!  For the full story click here.

Nature report by: Heidi Ledford, Anna Petherick, Alison Abbott, Linda Nordling


Kay Tye (31): The neuroscientist break-dancing down the tenure track. Photo by Dana Smith





Keity Souza Santos (33): Venom detective who studies allergic shock. Photo by Karine Maraf







MonicaBettencourtDias_byRobertoKeller-PerezMónica Bettencourt-Dias (39): Cell mechanic. Photo by Roberto Keller-Pérez







AmandaWeltmanJeffMurugan_byTonyMarksAmanda Weltman (33): A cosmologist who probes dark energy. Photo by Tony Marks



Think you’re too young to make a difference? Think again!

EmiliaCzyszczonThanks to an adventurous spirit and passion for science, 20 year old Emilia Czyszczon just discovered a new species of bacteriophage: Czyszczon1.

How did she do it?

The Purdue University sophomore was asked to find a mud sample for analysis in her introductory biotechnology class. Rather than collect mud from around the house like other students, Emilia remembered an interesting looking cave three hours from her home in Bedford, Indiana.  After a boat ride along an underground river with a supportive friend, Emilia found a remote spot in the cave to scrape mud from its walls.  Back in class, Emilia and her professor realized that this was no ordinary mud.  It was glacial mud from the last ice age.

And the most exciting discovery?  


The mud contained an unknown virus — a bacteriophage — which is harmless to humans but attacks bacteria that are antagonistic to humans. This Czyszczon1 bacteriophage attacks the family of bacteria responsible for Tuberculosis.  And because Tuberculosis bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotic treatments, this bacteriophage may provide a valuable form of alternative treatment.  Emilia has already been given a grant to examine the Czyszczon1 genome.  And yes, she’s 20.

Still think you’re too young to make a difference?  Break out your pioneering spirit and think again!

Cheers to another Sturff Hero: Emilia Czyszczon

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