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Awards and Honors

Biologist Martha Zúñiga selected as Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer

By Tim Stephens

The science and engineering honors society Sigma Xi has chosen UCSC biologist Martha Zúñiga to serve a second year as a Distinguished Lecturer. The Sigma Xi Distinguished Lectureship Program provides opportunities for the society's local chapters to host visits from outstanding individuals who are at the leading edge of science. Zúñiga, a professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology, is currently a Distinguished Lecturer for 2004-05 and will continue in this capacity in 2005-06.

Martha Zúñiga
UCSC Photo Services

Zúñiga has already given several talks on the immune system at universities around the country, including Purdue University and Southern Oregon University. These events enable her to meet not only members of the local Sigma Xi societies, but also other members of the local communities, such as high school students and teachers, Zúñiga said.

Her research focuses on a key component of the immune system known as class I major histocompatibility complex molecules and their recognition by T lymphocytes during T cell development, as well as during immune responses. Her overall goal is to elucidate the mechanisms by which self-tolerance is attained and maintained normally and how these mechanisms can be modulated in the treatment of autoimmune disease, cancer, and organ transplant rejection.

Zúñiga received her B.A. in zoology from the University of Texas at Austin, and her M.Phil. and Ph.D. in biology from Yale University. She received a Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1989 and joined the UCSC faculty in 1990.

Sigma Xi has a membership of 70,000 scientists and engineers in more than 100 countries. The society sponsors a variety of programs, including student research activities and programs that support science and engineering education, public understanding of science, and international research networking.

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