The featured outstanding New PI for August 2018 is Jordan Ward, Ph.D.!
Dr. Ward is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His lab uses a combination of genetics, molecular biology, microscopy, in vitro biochemistry, and genomics to determine how individual, evolutionarily conserved transcription factors regulate distinct gene expression programs. Dr. Ward’s lab is funded by a R00 from NIGMS, which aims to understand how nuclear hormone receptors control molting in both C. elegans and the human parasitic nematode B. malayi. He was also recently selected as a member of the Editorial Board of Micropublications. He is very excited about the potential of this publication format to rapidly disseminate results to the community and to create citable publications from undergraduate research projects.
Dr. Ward received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Microbiology from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. He then received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cancer Research UK/University of London in London, England. During his graduate work, he explored how cells repair mitotic and meiotic DNA damage. This work was extremely collaborative and led to an impressive first, co-first, and 10 middle author publications in four years. Dr. Ward then moved to the University of California, San Francisco for his postdoctoral studies. During his postdoc, Dr. Ward was prolific with 10 peer reviewed publications, including a single author research paper. He also published a single-author perspective during this time on strategies to import tools from C. elegans into parasitic nematodes. He was funded by highly competitive postdoctoral fellowships from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Terry Fox Foundation. In 2014, he was awarded a K99/R00 from the NIGMS. Dr. Ward was recruited as a faculty member to UC Santa Cruz in 2016. There, he focuses on transcription factor regulation of gametogenesis and the nematode molt in the model organism C. elegans.
Dr. Ward was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to organize a workshop at the 2017 International C. elegansmeeting designed to educate and promote interactions and collaborations between the parasitic roundworm community and C. elegansresearchers. The workshop included over 70 participants and was so successful that Dr. Ward will organize a similar event in 2019. This workshop personifies Dr. Ward’s excitement for, “understanding how gene regulation controls development and extending these findings into a parasitic nematode.” His review of the workshop can be found here: http://wbg.wormbook.org/2018/07/17/review-of-3rd-parasitic-nematodes-bridging-the-divide-workshop/
In addition to focusing on basic biology that could have a large impact, Dr. Ward is also a dedicated mentor. He says one of his favorite things about being a PI is, “getting to mentor a great group of really smart people.” He enjoys watching his trainees grow, take ownership of their projects, and start to teach him things. His excellent mentorship is evident by the fact that one of his first trainees is funded by a training grant. He is also a strong advocate for diversity in STEM. He works closely with STEM Diversity programs on campus and is dedicated to helping train undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented minorities.
Learn more about Dr. Ward’s research here: http://www.jordandward.com