Dr. Samara Reck-Peterson joins the JCC Board of Scientific Advisors

December 13, 2022

Dr. Samara Reck-Peterson is joining the JCC Board of Scientific Advisors. Dr. Reck-Peterson is a Professor in the Departments of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and Cell and Developmental Biology at UC San Diego, and an HHMI Investigator. Reck-Peterson’s research has resulted in many awards and honors including the American Society for Cell Biology WICB Junior Award for Excellence in Research and being an HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar.

Dr. Reck-Peterson’s lab focuses on the motors that move molecular cargo from one place to another within a cell. Their research has taken an exciting and unexpected turn recently in examining these motors in intelligent cephalopods such as octopuses and squids. By examining wild animals from the Pacific Ocean they have found that there is a temperature adaptation that optimizes motor performance through recoding of the RNA sequence, which leads to changes in the amino acids of the protein. Thus, in these animals RNA recoding can tune motor proteins to environmental conditions.

In addition to her lab’s research, Dr. Reck-Peterson is passionate about helping the scientific community. She actively builds industry-academia partnerships to bring new technologies to campus and help fund skilled staff to operate and maintain these technologies. At UC San Diego Reck-Peterson serves as the Director for the Goeddel Family Technology Sandbox and the Nikon Imaging Center. She credits her experience at previous institutions with giving her a broad understanding of how different academic institutions function.

Dr. Reck-Peterson is also passionate about increasing diversity in science. She and her lab have donated to the Henrietta Lacks Foundation for each HeLa cell line variant they have generated. Reck-Peterson encourages other labs to consider donating to the Henrietta Lacks Foundation and provides an example letter on her lab’s website to use unrestricted funds for this purpose.

Her interest in intracellular motion may stem from her career as a prolific athlete. Dr. Reck-Peterson was an All-State performer in track and field, cross country, and basketball at Litchfield High School in Minnesota. Therefore, it was no surprise when she was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2017. Reck-Peterson then attended Carleton College where she was the captain of the cross country team. Reck-Peterson draws parallels between the ups and downs of athletic competition and progress on a research project. She brings the determination, persistence, and preparation of a long-distance runner to her research projects. Furthermore, Reck-Peterson credits her experience as a leader in sports with preparing her for running a lab and leading scientists.

Dr. Reck-Peterson encourages JCC Fellows to challenge themselves to be creative in their research endeavors. She reflects on her postdoc as a confidence-building time for formulating and pursuing her own ideas. Reck-Peterson suggests that the JCC award should help enable Fellows to think creatively and pursue their own ideas. She encourages JCC Fellows to take advantage of these opportunities.

Welcome to the JCC Board of Scientific Officers Dr. Samara Reck-Peterson!