JCC welcomes Dr. Rebecca Heald to the Board of Scientific Advisors

December 16, 2022

Dr. Rebecca Heald is joining the JCC Board of Scientific Advisors. Dr. Heald is the Department Co-Chair and Flora Lamson Hewlett Chair and Professor of Cell Biology, Development and Physiology at UC Berkeley.

Heald and her lab investigate mechanisms of mitosis and cell size control using different frog species. Using cytoplasmic egg extracts from Xenopus laevis they reconstitute mitotic chromosome condensation and spindle assembly and function in vitro. They also use a smaller related frog, Xenopus tropicalis, to investigate interspecies and developmental scaling. Dr. Heald’s research and mentoring have earned her numerous awards including being named a Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences, the Women in Cell Biology Junior Career Award from the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), the Sandy Masur Senior Leadership Award from ASCB, and twice winning the Outstanding Postdoc Mentoring Award at UC Berkeley. Additionally, Heald is an ASCB Fellow and Member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Heald is excited to be at a secure stage in her career. This allows her to pursue interesting science. Equally important, she focuses her time and efforts on helping trainees and improving the scientific enterprise. Reflecting on her career, Heald observes that there has been a transition from science being a zero-sum competition to a more collaborative ecosystem. Heald appreciates that this transition allows for gentler advisors, who are interested in advocating for their trainees’ best interests, to have more of an impact. However, Heald also recognizes that it is now more financially difficult to be a postdoc. Furthermore, Heald realizes the inherent difficulty in selecting the “correct” candidates in the extremely competitive application process for JCC Fellowships. She looks forward to working with the JCC Board on these issues.

Heald encourages JCC Fellows to intentionally cultivate a group of mentors and advisors beyond their primary PI. In addition, she advocates for peer mentoring and seeking advice from those a step ahead in career progression. She drastically improved her experience as a starting assistant professor via peer mentoring. Intentionally fostering collaboration and collegiality with other labs in her early career boosted morale and productivity for all involved parties. She has termed this the “Lab Co-op” and encourages JCC Fellows to form Lab Co-ops of their own as they start their independent careers.

Welcome to the JCC Board of Scientific Advisors Dr. Rebecca Heald!