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Beckman Institute Director's Seminar

Event Type
Beckman Institute Administration
Beckman 1005
Nov 7, 2019   12:00 pm  
Michelle Rodrigues: "Stressors and Social Coping in Women of Color Scientists." and Xing Jiang: "Polymer-Peptide Conjugates of Precision: Designing Aβ Aggregation Inhibitors"
Stacy Olson
Originating Calendar
Beckman and Campus Calendars


Michelle A. Rodrigues is a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She studies how stressors are mediated by social support in human and non-human primates. After studying wild monkey friendship in Costa Rica, and social networks in captive apes, she is currently examining how the stresses of discrimination impact female scientists, focusing on the experiences of women of color scientists.

Abstract: Women in science experience stressors related to gender discrimination, and these pressures are intensified for women of color in science. Social support plays an important role in buffering stressor, but isolation may limit minoritized women’s able to access supportive networks. Here, I present both qualitative and quantitative data about the impact of these stressors, and the role of social support in mediating these stressors. Qualitative data from focus groups indicate that women of color science faculty of all ranks experience negative workplace experiences, including incivility, harassment, and social exclusion. Isolation and social exclusion may limit women’s ability to contextualize their experiences, whereas social support allows women to recognize how their experiences reflect larger patterns. Quantitative data supports the concept of selective incivilities, where women who receive greater racial microaggressions also experience more incivilities. Preliminary data suggests that partner support may be the strongest source of social support. Preliminary data will be presented on how these social experiences impact women of color’s physiological stress responses.

Xing Jiang is a Beckman Institute Postdoc Fellow and he conducts research under the guidance of Prof. Jeff Moore. He received a BS in chemistry from Peking University, and his PhD in Chemistry from UCLA. He joined the Moore Group in 2016, and his primary research interest is the development of polymer-peptide conjugates for inhibiting amyloid-beta aggregation, a process that is implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease. He is also interested in the synthesis of advanced organic materials from relatively simple compounds.

The number of people living with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is growing and growing fast. While there is still debate over the causes of AD, there are evidences that the aggregation of amyloid beta (Aβ) is implicated in the disease development. We aim to develop polymer-peptide conjugates to curb Aβ aggregation. Early work showed that various conjugates, prepared by randomly grafting peptides to a polymer chain, feature more effective inhibition than the isolated peptides. To better understand the mechanism of inhibition, and to develop more potent inhibitors, a second generation conjugates were prepared with structural precision at the atomic level. 


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