Ahna Skop, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Genetics
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ahna Skop is a geneticist, artist and a winner of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Her lab seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie asymmetric cell division during embryonic development using the nematode, C. elegans as a model system. Failures in cell division often lead to birth defects, age-related diseases and cancer. Understanding how cells divide is highly dependent on in vivo microscopy and large amounts of visual data, which dovetails perfectly with one of her other passions, art. The combination of scientist and artist inspires her to think differently and maintain an open mind. Ahna’s scientific art work can be seen in the main entrance of the Genetics/Biotechnology Center building on the UW-Madison campus. She has also curated and contributed to a traveling exhibition of scientific art from the UW-Madison campus and she has organized the bi-annual Worm Art Show for the International C. elegans Meeting for the past 19 years. On the UW-Madison campus and in her department, she has been passionately involved with several very successful recruitment and retention programs for underrepresented students. She and her lab actively participate in numerous STEM outreach activities on campus, state-wide and nationally. She was recently elected to serve as a board member for SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science).
Ahna is the child of artists. Her father, Michael Skop, was a bit of a Renaissance man and was a classically trained fine artist who studied with Ivan Mestrovic (a pupil of Rodin) and also taught college-level anatomy. Her father operated an art school at their home studio for many years and attracted artists, musicians and philosophers from all over the world. Her mother was a high school art educator and ceramicist and dabbled in fiber art, sculpture and painting. She majored in biology and minored in ceramics at Syracuse University, where her father had played football with Jim Brown, went to the Orange Bowl and studied with Mestrovic. She received her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and conducted her post-doctoral work at the University of California-Berkeley.
Ahna is current an Associate Professor in the Departments of Genetics and Life Science Communication at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also affiliated with the UW-Madison Arts Institute and often mentors art students in the lab. In 2008, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from the College of St. Benedicts and was named a Remarkable Women in Science from the AAAS. Her science and art have been featured by Apple and Science magazine. One of her great hobbies is cooking/baking and she manages a foodblog, foodskop.com, in her free time.
Sunday, July 15
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM