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Dr. Carol Gross Receives NAS Waksman Award in Microbiology and UCSF's Martin Luther King, Jr. Award

January 27, 2011

Dr. Carol Gross, PhD, who has a joint appointment in Medicine and in UCSF Dentistry's Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, has been awarded the Selman A Waksman Award in Microbiology from The National Academy of Sciences "For her pioneering studies on mechanisms of gene transcription and its control, and for defining the roles of sigma factors during homeostasis and under stress", as well as UCSF's Martin Luther King, Jr. Award "For extraordinary leadership in promoting and advancing mutual respect, understanding and appreciation for diversity at UCSF."

From the UCSF News article on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award: As chair of the Faculty Diversity Committee which she also established, Gross evaluates the status of underrepresented minorities in the basic sciences at UCSF and launches new initiatives to improve their situations. The most recent of these initiatives is the Diversity Workshop, a mandatory one-day session designed to increase awareness of minority issues for all incoming graduate students. Student and faculty members alike say the workshop is one of the most enlightening experiences they’ve had at UCSF, and changes the way they view one another.

Gross has also been instrumental in establishing and maintaining the excellence of the Summer Research and Training Program at UCSF. A central goal of the program is to recruit underrepresented minorities into renowned UCSF laboratories for summer research as undergraduates. Many of these students have ultimately decided to attend graduate school in the biological sciences following participation in the program.

Gross writes the National Sciences Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduates grant that funds 12 slots for the program, and has a major role in reviewing applications and orchestrating the placement of students in the labs that best match their interests and pursuits.

Many underrepresented students also find their place at UCSF thanks to Gross’s dedication to coordinating admissions for underrepresented students for individual graduate programs. She works closely with admissions committees in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics and Developmental Biology as well as Biophysics BMI and interviews all underrepresented candidates for both programs.

Additionally, Gross works to convert national directives on minority training into action by arranging for UCSF faculty to attend two large national minority research meetings: the Annual Biomedical Research Conferences for Minority Students and the Society for Advancing Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

But Gross’ dedication to revolutionizing the role of ethnic minorities in the basic sciences programs at UCSF doesn’t end at her official duties. For 17 years, she has mentored minority students and is known amongst faculty and students as approachable, easy to talk to and especially empathetic with students.

Pictured: Dr. Carol Gross

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