In June, associate professor James Olzmann in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology was granted the Günter Blobel Early Career Award by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). Following the announcement each year, the awardee traditionally writes an acceptance essay on a subject of their choosing. Olzmann’s essay, published in Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC), discusses the importance of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the biological sciences.
“Despite the recognized benefits of diversity and the decades of programs targeted at increasing diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine, the underrepresentation of historically excluded groups continues due to persisting systemic inequalities,” writes Olzmann in the journal article introduction. “It is imperative that we reassess our current recruitment strategies and reimagine our campus and workplace environments to provide an inclusive and equitable culture that is free of institutional barriers, affording equal opportunities for each individual to succeed, thrive, and be their whole self.”
The MBoC has long published essays from ASCB award winners. Often, ASCB award recipients write about their lives and careers paths, and many essays demonstrate a passion for scientific discovery or present ideas for progress in the scientific community.
When announcing the award in June, the ASCB cited Olzmann’s outstanding research into lipid droplet biogenesis and functions. His research seeks to understand the mechanisms by which cells combat and prevent lipotoxic damage and cell death, with implications for understanding serious diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. In addition, his research can lend important insight into the processes behind cancer, aging, and viral life cycles.