Crickard Awarded for Risky Science
22 June 2015 — Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology graduate student, Brooks Crickard, is the recipient of the Robert T. Simpson Graduate Student Award for Innovative (Risky) Science. He was recognized at the Simpson lecture held on May 5, 2015. Crickard works in the research laboratory of Joseph Reese, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.
The Simpson family created the Risky Science award in 2005, in memory of Dr. Robert Simpson, former professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. Dr. Simpson embraced high-risk, high-impact research. Therefore, the risky science award was established to recognize an individual graduate student, working under the direction of a biochemistry and molecular biology faculty member, which has made important innovative contributions in forwarding their research in their specific area of study.
Crickard explains, “DNA encodes all an individual’s genetic information stored in genes. This information makes us who we are and conversion of this information into functional units is carried out by the enzyme RNA Polymerase II. My research seeks to better understand mechanistically how RNAPII navigates from the start of a gene to the end of a gene. In particular how the earliest known transcription elongation factor Spt4/5 can help RNAPII in this process. My research focuses primarily on re-building interactions that occur during transcription elongation between RNAPII, Spt4/5, and chromatin, in a test tube. This is a challenging approach that requires each component to be purified and then put back together. The nature of this approach has required innovation to overcome problems I have encountered. This innovation does not come without risk and numerous failed experiments. In my opinion, without both innovation and risk it is impossible to do meaningful effective research. This is why I am deeply honored to have received the Robert T. Simpson memorial award for innovative research.”