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Margaret Werner-Washburne

  • Regents' Professor of BiologyUniversity of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

Dr. Maggie Werner-Washburne  received a BA in English from Stanford.  After graduation, she lived in Mexico, Central, and South America, Alaska, and Minnesota—a walkabout that led to her becoming a scientist. During this time, she became interested in ethnobotany (the traditional use of plants for food, clothing, and medicine). Maggie spent time in Western Samoa and New Zealand and completed an MS in botany at the University of Hawaii, and a PhD in botany with a minor in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After a postdoc in yeast molecular genetics where she and collaborators discovered that HSP70 genes were chaperones, Maggie and her family (husband Bruce and two sons) moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she is now Regents’ Professor of Biology. Her research has been to understand how yeast cells survive starvation and most recently focuses on genomic analysis of the cell-fate decision that leads to the production of quiescent and non-quiescent cells in stationary-phase cultures and working on new technology to increase the utility of GFP-fusion libraries. Her work has provided insight into aging, the cell cycle, and other significant areas of cell biology. Maggie also spent one year at NSF as a program officer for Microbial Genetics and wrote the first report on the Federal Investment in Microbial Genomics for OSTP.

Maggie has been at UNM for nearly 30 years, where she has mentored students from many backgrounds. She is an AAAS Fellow, 2011 Harvard Foundation Distinguished Scientist, and has received numerous awards, including two Presidential awards, for research and excellence in science, engineering, and math mentoring from both Presidents Bush. Her research has been funded by NIH, NSF, and DOE.  Maggie also directs the NIH-funded UNM-Iniatives to Maximize Student Diversity (IMSD) program for student research and is a co-PI on the model organism database FlyBase (Harvard and other institutions). The goal of the Model Organism Database program at UNM is to increase diversity in bioinformatics by developing a genome annotation center at UNM.

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