2020 RNA Society/Scaringe Award Winners
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The RNA Society is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 RNA Society/Scaringe Awards. There were three awardees this year; two post-doctoral recipients and one graduate student recipient. Please join us in congratulating the award recipients at the RNA 2020 conference to be held May 26-31, 2020, in Vancouver, Canada.

RNA Society/Scaringe Post-Doctoral Award

Furqan Fazal is a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Howard Y. Chang at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California. While in the Chang lab, Furqan worked on a method to map RNA secondary structures in different compartments of the cell. The method, APEX-Seq, has excellent spatial and temporal resolution that can be applied to map RNA localization at sites not amenable to biochemical purification. Using this technique, Furqan has discovered that that mRNA isoforms of the same gene often have distinct localization patterns and has identified specific RNA elements that direct localization to distinct nuclear territories and cytoplasmic organelles. Furqan has been awarded the Stanford Genomics Training T32 Award, the prestigious Beckman Fellowship, as well as an NHGRI K99/R00 award. He has been a member of the RNA Society since 2018.


RNA Society/Scaringe Post-Doctoral Award

Sebastian Fica is a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Professor Kiyoshi Nagai at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. Sebastian has utilized CryoEM to elucidate the three-dimensional structure of a number of splicing complexes at near atomic resolution. He has solved the structures of the yeast C* splicing complex; a complex that has completed the first step splicing reaction and is poised to catalyze the exon ligation reaction. He also worked with coworkers Galej and Wilkinson to elucidate the yeast C splicing complex structure. He then established a HeLa system to study mammalian splicing complexes, devised a strategy to purify mammalian post-catalytic P spliceosomes, and then helped to solve the structure of those complexes. He has received the Departmental Award for Outstanding Performance in the Field of Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Chicago as well as a Best Dissertation Award also from the University of Chicago. He has been a member of the RNA Society since 2009.


RNA Society/Scaringe Graduate Student Award

Robert Battaglia is a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Ailong Ke at Cornell University in Cornell, New York. While working in the Ke lab, Robert first crystalized and elucidated the structure of the guanidine-sensing ykk riboswitch using X-ray crystallography. He then worked with an undergraduate, Itai Levi, to establish a genetic screen to identify the genetic conditions that turn on or off a number of orphan riboswitches. Robert than turned his attention to determining the X-ray crystal structures of the Glycine T-box riboswitch bound to its cognate tRNA. He succeeded in obtaining first the structure of the complex with uncharged tRNA (at 2.9 Å resolution), then the structure of the T-box bound to tRNA containing a 2’3’-cyclic phosphate. The latter mimics a charged tRNA and showed that the T-box riboregulator initially can accommodate the binding of both forms of tRNA, uncharged and charged. He has been a member of the RNA Society since 2017.