Raymond L. Erikson Exceptional Thesis Award

Photo of Raymond L. EriksonIn 2020, the CMB Exceptional Thesis Award was renamed the Raymond L. Erikson Exceptional Thesis Award. A fund to support the award was created by family and friends in honor of Dr. Erikson who died on March 30, 2020 (Raymond L. Erikson (1936–2020). The award will continue to recognize CMB students who have written and defended an exceptional thesis. Recipients will receive $1000, as well as a plaque, and their names will be added to a plaque that hangs in the Bock Penthouse.

Renaming the award in honor of Dr. Erikson is fitting in many wonderful ways. Most notably, he was the second student to graduate from CMB, receiving his Ph.D. in 1963 under Dr. Waclaw Szybalski. Additionally, Dr. Erikson was born outside of Eagle, WI, he was an undergraduate at UW-Madison, and after graduate school he went on to have a distinguished career that included postdoctoral research with Dr. Richard Franklin at the University of Colorado Medical School and faculty positions at the University of Colorado and Harvard University.

After studying the radiation sensitivity of human cell lines as a graduate student and RNA bacteriophages as a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Erikson turned to studying RNA tumor viruses in his first faculty position. He made many important discoveries, including the identification of the first oncogene v-Src and its characterization as a kinase. In recognition of his work on v-Src, Dr. Erikson received the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1982, which he shared with Robert Gallo, J. Michael Bishop, Harold Varmus, and Hidesaburo Hanafusa. At Harvard, Dr. Erikson’s group continued to study oncogene and growth factor signaling, leading to the identification and/or characterization of the familiar signaling kinases MEK, S6K, and RSK. His legacy will live on through the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows he trained, and now through the Raymond L. Erikson Exceptional Thesis Award.

Siddhant Jain and Amelia Haj, 2020 Awardees

In 2020, the CMB Exceptional Thesis Award was renamed the Raymond L. Erikson Exceptional Thesis Award. Amelia Haj and Siddhant Jain jointly won the inaugural Raymond L. Erikson Exceptional Thesis Award.

Will Olson and Kyle Quinney, 2019 Awardees

Meet Will Olson and Kyle Quinney, the 2019 recipients of the CMB Exceptional Thesis Award.

Will Olson and Kyle Quinney Headshots

Diya Binoy Joseph, 2018 Awardee

During the course of Diya's studies on prostate development and regeneration in the Vezina Lab, she discovered that mesodermal Wolffian duct cells were able to regenerate bladder epithelium, which had important implications for regenerative medicine.

Diya Binoy Joseph

Sarah Neuman, 2017 Awardee

Sarah carried out her thesis research with Dr. Arash Bashirullah in the School of Pharmacy. She was praised by the CMB Awards Committee for her intellectual fearlessness and outreach, science communication, and mentoring accomplishments.

Sarah Neuman headshot

Jae-Sung You and Joseph Bruckner, 2016 Awardees

Jae-Sung focused on the regulation of skeletal muscle mass by mechanical loading, exercise and limb immobilization, and the role of mTOR activity. Joseph examined Fife, a protein in the active zone cytomatrix of the Drosophila synapse.

Jae-Sung Yu and Joseph Bruckner

Shang Ma, 2015 Awardee

Shang worked in the Huang Lab using mouse models to study brain development. He is now working as a post-doc with Dr. Ardem Patapoutian, an HHMI Investigator at the Scripps Research Institute, where he is studying mechanotransduction.

Headshot of Shang Ma

Robert Ihry and Saheed Imam, 2014 Awardees

Robert focused on how steroid hormones affect a variety of developmental processes with exquisite tissue and temporal specificity. Saheed’s research involved modeling a systems- level map of various metabolic and transcriptional processes.

Rob Ihry and Saheed Imam headshots