DOE CSGF Alumna Sarah Richardson Receives L’Oréal Fellowship

New York
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sarah Richardson, a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) alumna, is one of five women to receive the 2015 For Women in Science Fellowship from cosmetics maker L’Oréal USA.

The award, announced today, provides $60,000 grants to five outstanding female scientists each year to advance their postdoctoral research.

Richardson is a postdoctoral fellow in synthetic biology at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). She develops tools to edit a bacterium’s genetic instructions, enabling it to produce useful substances like drugs or biofuels. She sometimes describes it as building the infrastructure for science: creating techniques that accelerate the work of other researchers to harness bacteria to do our bidding.

While still in high school, Richardson started working with Jef Boecke, a researcher in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in her native Baltimore. She continued working with him during summer breaks as she earned her undergraduate degree in Cell, Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Maryland, College Park. She then enrolled in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and earned a DOE CSGF. Her doctoral research under Joel Bader focused on building computational tools to help create a synthetic genome based on a simple yeast. She earned her doctorate in Human Genetics in 2011.

Richardson recently spoke about her research and the DOE CSGF in a video interview recorded at the fellowship’s Annual Program Review.

Besides her research contributions, the L’Oreal fellowship award also recognizes Richardson’s commitment to serve as a role model for future scientists. Many of her efforts reach out to minority and economically disadvantaged students, including her participation in the Oakland Unified School District’s “Dinner with a Scientist” program. The Eden Area Regional Occupation Program recently recognized Richardson for her work with Bay Area biotechnology students.

L’Oréal USA, the largest subsidiary of the worldwide L’Oréal Group, sponsors the fellowship to recognize and reward women scientists and encourage more women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – fields in which they are underrepresented. The American Association for the Advancement of Science manages applications and enlists subject matter experts to review them.

Other winners are Sarah Ballard, a Torres Fellow in exoplanetary research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Julie Meyer, a postdoctoral researcher in marine microbiology at the University of Florida; Claire Robertson, a postdoctoral scientist in cancer bioengineering at Berkeley Lab; and Ming Yi, a postdoctoral researcher in condensed matter physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

The fellows will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with STEM leaders and high school and middle school students. They’ll also tour a L’Oréal laboratory in New Jersey. The fellows will be honored on Thursday, October 22 at a program in Washington.

Read the full L’Oréal release here. A video highlighting the award winners can be found here.