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An interview with the winners of the 2020 Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

This podcast is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

An interview with the winners of the 2020 Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists

Recorded 20 November 2020


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The Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists was established in 2013 as a collaboration between Science/AAAS and SciLifeLab. The prize rewards excellence amongst young researchers from around the world. It was created to recognize that global economic health is dependent upon a vibrant research community.

The 2020 prize winners are interviewed about their research, personal challenges, and passion for the work they do. Find out what motivates these exceptional young scientists and how they see their research developing in the future.

More about the prize

The Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists prize is awarded annually to four young scientists for outstanding life science research for which he/she earned a doctoral degree in the previous two years. Each year, a grand prize winner is selected from the applicants to receive 30,000 USD in prize money. The three other category winners are awarded 10,000 USD each for their accomplishments. The grand prize-winning essay is published in Science and essays from the three category winners are published online.

In addition, all four winners are invited to Sweden in December to take part in a unique week of events in honor of science—with the opportunity to meet with leading researchers in their field. The annual award ceremony and banquet is held in the Grand Hôtel Hall of Mirrors in Stockholm, the original venue of the Nobel Prize banquet.

[Music: Chris Burns; Podcast editing and production: Sean Sanders]

Speaker bios

Junyue Cao, Ph.D.

Rockefeller University
New York, NY

Dr. Cao received his undergraduate degree from Peking University and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. After completing his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington, he started his lab as an assistant professor and lab head of single-cell genomics and population dynamics at the Rockefeller University in 2020. His current research focuses on studying how a cell population in our body maintains homeostasis by developing genomic techniques to profile and perturb cell dynamics at single-cell resolution.

Orsi Decker, Ph.D.

La Trobe University
Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Decker completed her undergraduate degree at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. She went on to receive her master’s degree in Ecology and Evolution at the University of Amsterdam. She completed her doctoral research at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, where she investigated the extinctions of native digging mammals and their context-dependent impacts on soil processes. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at La Trobe University, where she is examining how land restoration efforts could be improved to regain soil functions through the introduction of soil fauna to degraded areas.

William E. Allen, Ph.D.

Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

Dr. Allen received his undergraduate degree from Brown University in 2012, M.Phil. in Computational Biology from the University of Cambridge in 2013, and Ph.D. in Neurosciences from Stanford University in 2019. At Stanford, he worked to develop new tools for the large-scale characterization of neural circuit structure and function, which he applied to understand the neural basis of thirst. After completing his Ph.D., he started as an independent Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, where he is developing and applying new approaches to map mammalian brain function and dysfunction over an animal’s life span.

Dasha Nelidova, Ph.D.

Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel
Basel, Switzerland

Dr. Nelidova completed her undergraduate degrees at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She completed her Ph.D. in neurobiology at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel, where she is working to develop new translational technologies for treating retinal diseases that lead to blindness.

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