2024 Glenn T. Seaborg Symposium and Medal Dinner

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On January 19, 2014, the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry honored Professor Juli Feigon (UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry) with the 2024 Glenn T. Seaborg Medal in recognition of her seminal contributions to the field.

A symposium entitled “Nucleic Acid Transactions and the Awesome Power of Structural Biology”, a poster session, and an evening medal award dinner were held in Feigon’s honor on the UCLA campus.

A photo gallery from the event can be viewed here and select photos can be viewed below.

2024 Seaborg Symposium speakers (from left) Professors Thomas Cech, Michael Summers, Karolin Luger, Z. Hong Zhou, and Juli Feigon.

After welcoming remarks by Department Chair Professor Alex Spokoyny at the afternoon symposium held in the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) auditorium, Feigon and four other prominent scientists gave talks:

  • Professor Thomas Cech (University of Colorado Boulder) – “RNA Controls DNA in the Human Cell Nucleus” (Introduced by Prof. Frederic Allain, ETH Zurich)
  • Professor Michael Summers (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) – “How HIV-1 Selectively Packages it’s RNA Genome” (Introduced by Prof. Vladimír Sklenář, Masaryk University)
  • Professor Karolin Luger (University of Colorado Boulder) – “Histones for All: Genome Compaction Throughout the Tree of Life” (Introduced by Prof. Albert Courey, UCLA)
  • Professor Z. Hong Zhou (UCLA Department of Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics) – “CryoEM Structures of Endogenous Complexes Involved in Trypanosomal RNA Editing” (Introduced by Prof. Angela Gronenborn, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine)
  • Professor Juli Feigon (UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry) – “My Winding Road From G-quadruplexes to Telomerase” (Introduced by Prof. Guillaume Chanfreau, UCLA)

The Glenn T. Seaborg Medal was established in 1987 and is given annually by the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry to honor individuals for their significant contributions to the fields of chemistry and biochemistry.

(Left) Feigon group alum Dr. Yaqiang Wang, Prof. Feng Guo, Feigon group alum Dr. Henry Chan. (Right) Profs. Guillaume Chanfreau and Juli Feigon.
(Left) Prof. Michael Jung with Jennifer Riggs and Catherine Liu from Bristol Myers Squibb. (Right) Alumnus Dr. Bryan Simmons (MA ’16, PhD ’19 Garg group), now with Bristol Myers Squibb, and current Garg group graduate students Giulianna Miseo and Christina Rivera.

A poster session featuring chemistry and biochemistry postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and undergraduate students was held as part of the symposium in the CNSI lobby. Three winners were chosen from the poster session by a panel of judges consisting of our newest faculty members: Assistant Professors Tori Barber, Danielle Schmitt, and Michael Lawson. The winners—Nima Adhami (Spokoyny and Rodriguez groups), Joanne Hui (Kaner group), and Arismel Tena (Garg group)—were announced and honored during the dinner.

2024 Seaborg Symposium poster session winners – Nima Adhami, Joanne Hui, and Arismel Tena with poster session judges Assistant Professors Danielle Schmitt and Michael Lawson.

Following the symposium, a reception and medal award dinner were held at the UCLA Covel Commons Grand Horizon Patio and Ballroom. Attending the day’s events were Seaborg Medalists Professors David Eisenberg (2004), Kendall Houk (2013), Michael Jung (2016), and William Gelbart (2017).

Representatives from corporate donors for the event attended the symposium and dinner, including alumni, Shiva Malek (BA ’93), Dr. Jesus Moreno (PhD ’17 Garg group), and Dr. Bryan Simmons (MA ’16, PhD ’19 Garg group).

(Left) Profs. Bill Gelbart, Nina Gelbart (Occidental College), and Paul S. Weiss. (Right) Dr. Clemens Anklin (Bruker Instruments), Prof. Sabeeha Merchant, and Prof. Jie Zheng (UCLA).
(Left) UCLA alumnus and supporter Dr. Mani L. Bhaumik with Dean of Physical Sciences Professor Miguel García-Garibay.  (Right) SMACS Co-President John Cao, Alexia Andrikopoulos (PhD student, Schmitt group),undergraduate Kasey Parks, and SMACS members Jessica Wang, Rebecca Lee, and Misaki Nagae.
(Left) Supporters Jonathan Mersel and Marion Peters (UCLA Librarian Emeritus) with Dr. Fang Liu, her daughter Sydney, and Prof. Ken Houk. (Right) Prof. Robert Griffin (MIT) and Prof. David Eisenberg.
(Left) Dr. Encarna Montecino-Rodriguez, Prof. Juli Feigon, Gale Kinderberg, and Sandy Chang. (Right) Former Feigon group members Dr. Edmond Wang, Dr. Shiva Malek B.A. ‘93 (Novartis), Dr. Roman Macaya, his daughter Adriana, Dr. Karl Koshlap, and Dr. Charlotte Gotfredsen.
(Left) Current and former Garg group members – graduate students Zachary Walters and Allison Clark, postdoc Dr. Jiaming Ding, and alumnus Dr. Jesus Moreno (PhD ’17), now with Bristol Myers Squibb. (Right) Department Chair Prof. Alex Spokoyny, supporter Prof. Margie Kivelson (UCLA), and Prof. Richard Kaner.

The highlight of the evening was when Department Chair Professor Alex Spokoyny and Dean of Physical Sciences Professor Miguel García-Garibay presented the 2024 Glenn T. Seaborg Medal to Feigon. 

(Left) Department Chair Prof. Alex Spokoyny made remarks before presenting Feigon with the medal. (Right) Profs. Spokoyny, Feigon, and García-Garibay pose for a photo with the medal.

After accepting the medal, Feigon made remarks and then announced that she had established the Juli Feigon Helping Hands Award.  The annual award is for postdoctoral fellows, research staff, and graduate students who are primary caregivers for dependent children or other family members, providing extra time and resources to help them pursue their scientific careers.  Funds are intended to be used for anything that alleviates burdens associated with caregiving, including but not limited to house cleaning services, time-saving appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers, babysitters or nannies for times when the daycare center is closed or unavailable, and extra caregiving costs associated with travel to meetings and workshops. The inaugural award will be presented at the annual departmental awards ceremony on May 21, 2024.  Learn how to contribute to the fund here.

At dinner, each guest received a deck of playing cards custom-made by the Feigon Group, with each card featuring an image from their research. The red joker has a QR code for donations to the Juli Feigon Helping Hands Award.

The department wishes to thank this year’s corporate sponsors—Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Bruker, and Novartis—as well as our generous individual supporters, whose donations made the Seaborg events possible.

Many thanks to the undergraduate volunteers from the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) for their help at the Seaborg events – John Cao, Rebecca Lee, Chahak Gupta, Jessica Wang, Coco Yuan, and Bedelia Law.

Photos by Reed Hutchinson. Article by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.