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A Newsletter for Biochemistry, Genetics and Cell Biology, and Microbiology Alumni & Friends College of Veterinary Medicine | Molecular Biosciences News

Faculty News

Nancy Magnuson and John Nilson Retire

This spring the School of Molecular Biosciences said farewell to esteemed faculty members Drs. Nancy Magnuson and John Nilson.

Nancy S. Magnuson - 2010

Nancy Magnuson was one of the first to identify how the PIM-1 gene, a proto-oncogene, contributes to cancer development. Over nearly 30 years, she also worked with dozens of students, undergraduate and graduate, to help them achieve their academic and professional goals. Magnuson earned her doctorate from WSU in 1978 and joined the WSU faculty as a research assistant professor in 1981. She also served as the director of the NSF funded ADVANCE grant program that promotes the careers of women in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines in academia. In 2010, Magnuson was selected by her peers to give the WSU Distinguished Faculty Address, one of the University’s highest honors, recognizing the achievements of one faculty member in research, scholarship, and teaching. The Dr. Nancy Magnuson Immunology Scholarship was established to support students pursuing a degree in immunology and to honor one of the college’s most esteemed faculty members.

For more information on how you can support this scholarship, visit


John Nilson headshot 12.10

John Nilson joined WSU as Edward Meyer Distinguished Professor and director of the School of Molecular Biosciences in 2003. He served as director for a decade before stepping down in 2013 to focus on developing a new umbrella graduate pro-gram in the college titled Integrated Programs in Biomedical Science. This summer, he was named a fellow of the Consortium of West Regional Colleges of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Academy. Dr. Nilson, whose research has been funded continuously by the National Institutes for Health for over 34 years, has had a longstanding interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in temporal, spatial, and hormone-regulated expression of the genes in the pituitary that encode reproductive hormones. He has served as the editor-in-chief of Molecular Endocrinology and as president of the Society for the Study of Reproduction. He received the Beacon in Reproductive Research Award from the Frontiers in Reproduction Program and the Sidney H. Ingbar Distinguished Service Award from the Endocrine Society. Under his supervision, 14 students completed graduate degrees, and he has trained 19 postdoctoral scientists. Almost all have gone on to successful careers in academics or biotechnology companies. Dr. Nilson plans to retire to Taos, New Mexico.


Dr. Roberts

Photo_RobertsDr. Roberts comes to WSU from North Carolina where he has been conducting post-doctoral research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Originally from northwest Ohio, he earned his undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biology from Bowling Green State University.  He completed his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina.  From his graduate and post-doctoral training, Dr. Roberts has developed a strong interest in the mechanisms of DNA repair and mutagenesis.  Several of his important discoveries have been published in Nature, Molecular Cell, and Nature Genetics.  He was also recently awarded a National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award that he will use at WSU to continue his work investigating the mechanisms that produce genetic alteration how they contribute to human diseases such as cancer.

Dr. Goodman

Alan GoodmanDr. Goodman comes to WSU from the University of Miami where he researches the innate immune response to virus infection using the fruit fly as a model.  He earned a Ph.D. in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2007 and studied influenza virus pathogenesis.  Before going to Miami, Dr. Goodman was a post-doctoral fellow at the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología in Madrid, Spain.  There he collaborated to develop a universal influenza virus vaccine (and learn about Spanish soccer!).  Through his research, teaching, and mentoring of post-doctoral students, Dr. Goodman’s goal is to improve human health by better understanding disease.  Dr. Goodman first became interested in science as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University.  He was inspired by the “Light and Life” seminar his first semester and was mentored by a professor who helped him receive a research assistantship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Born in New York City and raised in Utica, New York, Dr. Goodman is a die-hard Yankees fan.

Pat Hunt

Pat Hunt called “the accidental toxicologist” by Scientific American magazine, was invited to give a talk this fall called “Science by Accident.” Her lecture was part of the WSU’s Common Reading program. This year’s book is “Being Wrong” by Kathryn Schulz.

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Mike Griswold and Tom Spencer

Mike Griswold and Tom Spencer received the 2013 Carl G. Hartmann Award and the SSR Research Award, respectively from the Society for the Study of Reproduction. The Carl G. Hartmann Award, named for a distinguished reproductive biologist, is the Society’s highest award. It recognizes a career of research and scholarly activities in the reproductive biology field.

Julie Stanton

Julie Stanton received the Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Grant from the University College for work on The Metacognitive Regulation and Student Performance in a Large Introductory Biology Course.