Mary Lee Ledbetter
NSF Award Recognition: NSF 2003 Distinguished Teaching Scholars

Research Contributions: Dr. Ledbetter’s research addresses the relationship between ion homeostasis in cultured animal cells and the cells’ ability to communicate using gap junctions. She has served on Advisory Panels for numerous NSF and NIH programs, as well as to the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is a long-standing Guest Scientist at The Scripps Research Institute and has held a NSF Visiting Professorship for Women grant to work there. She is a regular contributor to International Gap Junction Conferences, where she is the only participant from a liberal arts college. She was elected to the Council of the American Society for Cell Biology (1995-98), an honor that more often goes to highly visible researchers than to those dedicated to college teaching.

Educational Contributions: Dr. Ledbetter has a long history of commitment and activity in cell biology education. At Holy Cross, she has been active in promoting science careers for women, and has worked with high school and senior citizen groups on such topics as stem cell research, cloning, and genomics. At The Scripps Research Institute she developed a course on Scientific Communication for graduate students. She serves on the Editorial Board of Cell Biology Education, and has served as a committee member of the Examiners of the Educational Testing Service for the Graduate Record Examination in Biochemistry, and Cell and Molecular Biology. Dr. Ledbetter’s research is intimately connected to her undergraduate teaching and she has directed the undergraduate research projects of 59 students over the past 22 years. She routinely publishes with undergraduates, and has co-authored 35 papers, lab manuals and abstracts, many with undergraduates. She contributed articles to an Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (Salem Press) summarizing complex, important material for a general audience.

Director's Award Project: Dr. Ledbetter’s project aims to expand research opportunities for undergraduate students in genomics and bioinformatics. She will mentor a post-doctoral fellow in the supervision of undergraduate research and the development of undergraduate courses, and mentor undergraduates in communicating the excitement of their research projects to local secondary and elementary school students.

from NSF Event, June 3, 2003 Program