Dr. Amy Merrill-Brugger, Associate Professor in the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the University of Southern California, is the recipient of the 2019 Marylou Buyse Distinguished Scientist Award. This award, named after the first female president of the SCGDB, was created to recognize SCGDB members in the middle stage of their careers who have made important contributions to the craniofacial sciences. Amy received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California, during which she used mouse genetics to discover a novel role for cellular boundaries in the pathogenesis of craniosynostosis. For her postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco she uncovered the unique potential of cranial neural crest cells to autonomously control the timing of bone formation in the developing face. She completed a fellowship in Medical Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles/Cedars Sinai Medical Center, during which she identified the first disease-causing mutations for Short-rib polydactyly syndrome and established this lethal skeletal disorder as a ciliopathy. She joined USC as an Assistant Professor in 2010, where her laboratory studies the cellular mechanisms underlying Bent Bone Dysplasia Syndrome. Dr. Merrill-Bruggerreceived a commemorative plaque and gave a plenary lecture on the “Developmental control of cell fate choices: insights from rare craniofacial disorders” at the SCGDB 42nd Annual Meeting.
Joan T. Richtsmeier
Dr. Joan Richtsmeier, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University, was the recipient of the 2019 SCGDB David Bixler Distinguished Scientist Award. This award, named after the first President of the SCGDB, is the society’s highest scientific honor created to recognize long-term distinguished leadership and meritorious contributions to the craniofacial sciences by a senior level SCGDB member. Joan received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University. She then took a faculty position in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she rose up the ranks to Professor. She moved her laboratory to Pennsylvania State University in 2000. Throughout her career, Dr. Richtsmeier has been interested in understanding the molecular and morphological bases of craniofacial development and how this impacts face shape during both evolution and human diseases. She has co-authored over 160 research papers and book chapters, as well as three books. Dr. Richtsmeier has had many leadership roles in the area of craniofacial genetics and developmental biology, including serving on editorial boards, study sections, task forces and executive committees for several professional societies. She has helped organize numerous scientific meetings, including those of the SCGDB. She served as elected Vice-President (2010-2012), President (2012-2014) and Past President (2014-2016) of the SCGDB, during which membership and activities greatly expanded. Joan received a commemorative plaque and gave a plenary lecture on “Cranial cartilage and bone formation in development and disease” at the SCGDB 42nd Annual Meeting.
For his long-standing contributions to the field and to the society, Dr. Geoffrey Sperber was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Annual meeting. Dr. Sperber is Professor Emeritus in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alberta and a long time member and former Secretary/Treasurer of the SCGDB (2003-2011). Dr Sperber is the author of 6 books including "Craniofacial Embryology" and "Craniofacial Embryogenetics and Development" and received the Award of Merit from the Canadian Dental Association in 2001. Recently, a Dentistry Museum was been named in his honor at the University of Alberta, together with an annual Sperber Lectureship and establishment of an endowed Sperber Craniofacial Research Fund to provide support for basic science research. He received a commemorative plaque and gave a plenary lecture on “Reflections on the SCGDB and Craniofacial Embryogenetics and Development” at the SCGDB 42nd Annual Meeting.