Essays on Science and SocietyEPPENDORF WINNER

2009 Grand Prize Winner

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Science  16 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5951, pp. 383
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_383

The author of the prize-winning essay, Richard Benton, obtained his Ph.D. in 2003 for research on the molecular basis of cell polarization performed in the group of Daniel St. Johnston at The Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research U.K. Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge. For his postdoctoral training, he joined Leslie Vosshall's laboratory at The Rockefeller University, New York, where he became interested in olfactory signaling mechanisms in insects. During his postdoc he was supported by fellowships from the European Molecular Biology Organization and the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. He established his laboratory as assistant professor at the Center for Integrative Genomics at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, in September 2007. In 2008, he was awarded a European Research Council Starting Independent Researcher Grant. His group studies the genetic, neural, and evolutionary basis of chemosensation in the fruit fly, Drosophila.


Max Heiman, for his essay “The Brain That Nature Built.” Dr Heiman learned how to pipette in 1995 as a summer student with Steve Reeves at Massachusetts General Hospital; while there, he wrote Webcutter, one of the earliest online DNA analysis programs. He received a B.S. in Biology in 1997 from Yale University, working with Frank Ruddle on homeobox genes in mouse development. As a graduate student with Peter Walter at the University of California, San Francisco, he identified the fi31rst protein implicated in membrane fusion in yeast mating, a process analogous to sperm-egg fusion, and received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 2002. He has been a fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund. Since 2003, he has conducted postdoctoral work with Shai Shaham at The Rockefeller University, using Caenorhabditis elegans to study the assembly of neuronal shapes.


David McLean, for his essay “Shifting Gears to Change Speeds in the Spinal Cord.” Dr. McLean was born in Perth, Scotland, but grew up in Canton, New York, USA. He returned to Scotland to study at the University of St. Andrews, where he received his B.Sc. in Biology in 1997 and then his Ph.D. in Neurobiology in 2001 with Keith Sillar. In 2002, he joined Joseph Fetcho's laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow, where he studied the spinal control of locomotor movements. He is now at the Department of Neurobiology and Physiology at Northwestern University, where he continues to pursue his interest in the development and plasticity of motor networks.

For the full text of finalist essays and for information about applying for next year's awards, see Science Online at

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