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Dr. Debbie Yaver to Receive Inaugural Award

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Dr. Debbie Yaver will be presented with the 2014 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership. Dr. Yaver’s work and leadership over twenty years in engineering industrial microorganisms embodies the spirit of Rosalind Franklin and her pioneering efforts. Dr. Yaver will deliver a brief address at the conference in San Diego.

This fall more than twenty female leaders in industrial biotechnology were nominated for the award. Dr. Yaver’s accomplishments and dedication stood out to the Rosalind Franklin Award Selection Committee, who selected her as the inaugural recipient.

Dr. Yaver received her Bachelor’s degree in Bacteriology from the University of California-Davis. After working for two years on oil field microbiology at SRI International, Dr. Yaver returned to UC-Davis where she earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology. Her dissertation research focused on the analysis of the in vivo function of 7S RNA in the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica. Dr. Yaver then conducted her postdoctoral research at UC-Davis, where she studied the role of the vacuolar ATPase in protein sorting. 


Following her post-doctoral education, Dr. Yaver accepted a position as a Research Scientist in the Novo Nordisk enzyme division, the predecessor of what is now Novozymes. For over twenty two years, Dr. Yaver has made extraordinary scientific contributions to Novozymes’ fundamental knowledge and expertise in gene expression technology in bacterial and fungal systems. Currently, Dr. Yaver is the Director of Expression Technology, Genomics and Bioinformatics at Novozymes research center in Davis, California. Her research departments focus on engineering microbial strains for production of enzymes, other proteins and small molecules as well as extensive genomics and bioinformatics. Dr. Yaver is an author on many scientific publications in top-line peer-reviewed journals. Her vision and passion for industrial biotechnology is reflected by the fact that she is an inventor on nearly forty issued patents. Dr. Yaver truly leads by example, and her success is a strong reflection of the inspiration and mentorship she provides to her colleagues. Dr. Yaver is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Society of Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB) and is chairing a SIMB Presidential Committee on Strategic Planning. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing at University of Iowa. She has remained active at UC-Davis and for several years and has taught a graduate level seminar on industrial biotechnology from discovery to product, which is part of the UC-Davis Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology program. Dr. Yaver is also a member of the Executive Committee for the UC-Davis NIH Training Grant for Biomolecular Technology and the Advisory Committee of the UC-Davis CREATE-IGERT Training program.

With the support of the Rosalind Franklin Society, BIO will present Dr. Yaver with the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology at the 2014 BIO Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy. 


About Rosalind Franklin:

Just as Rosalind Franklin paved the way for women in the biotechnology field, the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award will be presented to a pioneering woman in the industrial biotechnology sector who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the biobased economy and biotech innovation. The Rosalind Franklin Award will stand as a lasting memory to the legacy left by Rosalind Franklin, who was instrumental in the discovery and our greater understanding of the molecular structure of DNA, by honoring those women who too have made significant contributions in industrial biotechnology. Through Rosalind Franklin’s use of X-ray diffraction images, the true double helix structure of DNA was discovered. Indeed, it was with the help of Franklin’s images and writings that eventually led Francis Crick and James Watson to release their 1953 model of the structure of DNA.  Though often overlooked, Rosalind Franklin’s critical work and discovery in the field has allowed the expansive growth of the biotechnology industry to become what it is today. As said by John Desmond Bernal, a fellow X-ray crystallographer, of Franklin’s crystallographic portraits of DNA, “Her photographs were among the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken.”

Award Purpose:

With this award we hope to not only honor Rosalind Franklin’s legacy, but honor those women who have also shown exemplary leadership and led the way through previously uncharted territory. Note: Awardees are expected to commit to being present to receive the award and to giving ten to fifteen minutes of remarks at a plenary session when they accept the award in person at a BIO conference.

Click here to learn more about Women in Industrial Biotechnology

More Information Available Here:

Please see some of the 2014 nominees below :

1.Maria J. Barbosa, Director AlgaePARC, Wageningen, The Netherlands

2.    Nahla V. Bassil, Geneticist, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Clonal Germplasm Repository       

3.Cathy Burzik, Operating Partner, Targeted Technology    

4.Raquel Lia Chan, Ph.D. Instituto de Agrobiotecnologia del Litoral (CONICET-UNL)        

5.Helena L. Chum, Research Fellow, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

6.Katrina Cornish, Ph. D, The Oho State University  

7.Carole L. Cramer, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences, Arkansas State Univ., Arkansas Biosciences Institute

8.Lisa Dyson, CEO, Kiverdi

9.Vonnie Estes, Managing Director, GranBio 

10. Kaisa Hietala, Executive Vice President, Renewable Products, Neste Oil Corporation 

11. Hoi-Ying Holman, Director, Berkeley Synchrotron Infrared Structural Biology Program, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory        

12. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech

13. Ethel Noland Jackson, DuPont Fellow, DuPont CR&D Biotechnology

14. K’Lynne Johnson, CEO & President, Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc.

15. Dr. Christine Lang, CEO, Organobalance GmbH

16. Ellen Lee, Team Leader, Plastics Research, Ford Motor Company

17. Rosemarie Osborne, Research Fellow, Procter & Gamble

18. Anna Rath, President and CEO, NexSteppe

19. Dr. Ravigadevi Sambanthamurthi, Director, Advanced Biotechnology and Breeding Centre, Malaysian Palm Oil Board 

20. Theodora Retzina, CEO, American Process Inc.

21. Debbie Yaver, Director, Expression Technology, Genomics and Bioinformatics, Novozymes, Inc.

22. Xiao-Ying Yu, Senior Research Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory