Congratulations to Tara Alpert and Jeremy Schofield, winners of this year’s Mary Ellen Jones Prize

Tara Alpert and Jeremy Schofield
July 14, 2020

Mary Ellen Jones Prize

Dr. Tara Alpert defended her thesis entitled “Coordination Between Pre-mRNA Splicing and Cleavage in Budding Yeast” in March 2020. Her thesis work, mentored by Dr. Karla Neugebauer, provided novel insights into how gene architecture and genome organization impacts gene expression. Specifically, her work used long read “MinION” sequencing of nascent RNA to reveal transient RNA intermediates in the gene expression pathway. Dr. Alpert showed that the regulated expression of one gene can affect neighboring genes. In a field that classically treats genes as individual units, Tara’s work highlights the importance of utilizing novel technologies to investigate the bigger genomic picture. Dr. Alpert is conducting postdoctoral research on the spread of the novel coronavirus in the lab of Dr. Nathan Grubaugh at the Yale School of Public Health. 

Dr. Jeremy Schofield defended his thesis entitled “TimeLapse-seq: Examining the Dynamic of the Transcriptome through 4-Thiouridine Nucleoside Recoding” in December 2019. His thesis work, mentored by Professor Matthew Simon, developed a chemical method to specifically modify metabolically labeled RNAs, TimeLapse-seq, providing a temporal dimension to standard RNA sequencing. In this novel approach, we can now explore RNA processes in new ways that allow us to see beyond a single snapshot of cellular RNAs in time. This will allow researchers to investigate regulatory mechanisms of gene expression with biological implications in cancer and genetic disorders. Dr. Schofield is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Steven Hahn at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he is studying the basic mechanisms of RNA polymerase II transcription regulation.

By Karla Neugebauer