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Fellow Scientists Salute Susan Forsburg

The Association for Women in Science confers a prestigious title on the USC College biologist known for research on cell division and cancer

Fellow Scientists Salute Susan Forsburg

Long a de facto role model for women in academia, USC College biologist Susan Forsburg has made it official by becoming a fellow of the Association for Women in Science.

Forsburg and nine others were honored Feb. 18 in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They join an influential group of more than 100 association fellows dedicated to achieving equity and full participation of women in science.

While saying she was honored to be chosen, Forsburg attached more importance to the influence of the award on women starting their careers in science.

“What it shows is that hard work and our efforts pay off,” she said in an interview at the ceremony. “We can be recognized by our peers. Any recognition benefits all of us.”

Women in all fields, she said, can be overlooked despite their accomplishments. An honor such as becoming an AWIS fellow raises the recipient’s profile and sends a message to other women that they can succeed as well.

And, Forsburg added, “the women fellows are also great resources for women coming up in the ranks.”

Donna Dean, president of the association, praised Forsburg for her academic accomplishments (she was named one of the top nine women in cancer research by Pink magazine) and for her Women in Biology Internet page, “a popular Web site that is accessed internationally.”

The site,, is packed with advice and resources for women with a Ph.D. who are seeking careers in academia or industry. Forsburg has said she is “especially proud of a comprehensive set of links to so-called ‘alternative careers’ sites as well as information about surviving every step of the academic path.”

She is also heavily involved in USC’s Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), a highly successful program designed to increase the representation and success of women in the sciences. WiSE has attracted national attention, and Forsburg was quoted last year in an article on the program in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Forsburg, a professor of biological sciences, is best known for her work on cell division and cancer using the test organism Schizosaccharomyces pombe, a simple, single-celled yeast species.

S. pombe is much easier to study than complex organisms, yet it shares many features with humans. Forsburg’s work on the species helps illustrate the mechanics of cell division in humans.

She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recipient of the Stohlman Scholar Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The Association for Women in Science is the largest multidisciplinary scientific organization for women in the United States, with upwards of 3,000 members in more than 50 chapters.