Dr. Sandra Encalada is the Arlene and Arnold Goldstein Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine and a Dorris Neuroscience Center Investigator at Scripps Research Institute in California. Sandra is a cell biologist whose research focuses on how proteins and other materials travel from the cell bodies of nerve cells all the way to the tips of the nerve cells. This process (called “transport” or “trafficking”) is critical for proper function of nerve cells, and it is highly regulated by a set of nonomachines called molecular motors. Sandra’s lab studies transport in healthy neurons and also how failures in transport may be related to or contribute to neurodegenerative disease. Lately, Sandra has been enjoying reading, playing games, and bonding with her 5 year old daughter. She also likes to spend her free time swimming in the ocean with her “pod” of fellow swimmers and practicing jazz improvisation on the piano. She received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Earlham College, her M.S. in population genetics from the University of Florida, and her Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the University of Oregon. Afterwards, she was awarded a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct research at the University of California, San Diego. Next, Sandra worked as an Assistant Project Scientist and Neuroplasticity of Aging Fellow at the University of California before joining the faculty at Scripps Research. She has received numerous awards and honors over the course of her career, including The Glenn Foundation’s Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, The Baxter Foundation Young Faculty Award, and The Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award. In our interview, Sandra shares more about her life and science.
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