Skip to main content

Laura Winzenread

130613_0604_convocation-v2Laura Winzenread

Presented by Leslie B. Vosshall on behalf of Cori Bargmann
B.S., University of Kansas
An Analysis of Synaptotagmins in Caenorhabditis elegans







Cori Bargmann was unable to be here today and I am pleased to present Laura Winzenread on her behalf.

To me, Laura has always embodied the spirit of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. She hails from Edmond, Oklahoma, and moved to Lawrence, Kansas, to do her undergraduate work at the University of Kansas. There she was a Phi Beta Kappa scholar of genetics, a fly researcher, as well as a proud member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. In 2005, she was magically picked up and deposited at the gates of the Emerald City at 66th Street and York Avenue, an exotic Midwesterner, Jayhawks fan and sorority girl.

In Cori’s lab, she carried out a genetic screen to dissect the rules of synaptic organization in the worm. Using a fluorescent marker to tag synapses — the point at which two neurons communicate with each other — Laura screened for worms with aberrant synaptic morphology. This involved many hundreds of hours of looking for tiny faint spots along a worm neuron that changed in a potential mutant. She succeeded in identifying mutations in a gene called synaptotagmin as responsible for defects in one of her mutants.

Laura was an enthusiastic supporter of our graduate program, always involved in recruiting students at the spring open house and in one memorable trip back to Kansas, accompanied me to pitch our graduate program to University of Kansas biology majors.

Somehow between her community service at Rockefeller and her intense worm-gazing in Cori’s lab, she found the time to appear (and earn $2,300) on a TV game show called “Cash Cab.”
This particular Dorothy will not be going back to Kansas but plans to stay in our fair Emerald City to pursue a career in management consulting with the eventual goal of applying her prodigious scientific intellect and magical social skills to equity research in the biotech sector.