Heather Meyer, a postdoctoral fellow in David Ehrhardt’s Plant Biology lab since 2016, has been awarded Carnegie’s twelfth Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence Award. These prizes are given to postdocs for their exceptionally creative approaches to science, strong mentoring, and contributing to the sense of campus community. The nominations are made by the departments and are chosen by the Office of the President. The recipients receive a cash prize and are celebrated at an event at their departments.
Heather initiated a pioneering scientific project to identify the molecular mechanisms that plants use to sense and respond to seasonal temperatures in order to regulate flowering time and reproduction. Timing of reproduction is critical for plant success and is particularly important with global temperature rise. This project is an interdepartmental collaboration between the Ehrhardt lab and Yixian Zheng’s lab at the Department of Embryology initiated with a Carnegie Venture Grant.
Heather obtained preliminary data that allowed her to receive two competitive fellowships to continue this project, including the highly competitive Life Science Research Fellowship. She also was chosen to present her results to the Carnegie trustees at the May 2018 meeting.
Heather’s outstanding leadership and outreach includes co-founding a campus-wide interest group on the biology of intrinsically disordered proteins, which meets once a month and fosters cross-departmental and Carnegie-Stanford interactions. Heather and three other group members also took the program to the California Academy of Sciences for an outreach night where they taught the public about these proteins using hands-on activities with simple household ingredients.
Heather is also a leader in the Carnegie Institution Postdoc Association. She organizes community events and helps to draft the letters sent to Carnegie’s leadership.
Ehrhardt remarked, “Much to my delight, Heather has also taken a keen interest in student and postdoctoral training. She co-organized and acted as an instructor for the Carnegie Writing Workshop, along with Sue Rhee, Kathy Barton and Kangmei Zhao. She was principal designer of the curriculum on how to write and submit scientific papers. These are essential skills for all scientists, yet we are seldom taught formally as part of our training.”
Carnegie president Eric D. Isaacs said, “The institution was founded to support particularly creative and excellent researchers. We are delighted to recognize Heather Meyer for her outstanding interdepartmental work on the molecular mechanisms underlying plant growth and reproduction. Please join me in congratulating her.”
Heather received a B.A. in premedical sciences in 2011 from Sarah Lawrence College and a Ph.D. in genetics, genomics, and development in 2016 from Cornell University.