Genome scientist Melissa Cline honored for mentoring women in science

Melissa Cline
Melissa Cline (Photo by Jessica Xie)

Melissa Cline, a project scientist at UCSC's Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering (CBSE), has been chosen to receive the 2014 Ellen Weaver Award for mentoring young women in science.

The Ellen Weaver Award, presented by the Northern California Chapters of the Association of Women in Science (AWIS), is given annually to a woman who has distinguished herself both in scientific achievement and as a mentor in support of other women in science. Cline was recognized for her involvement in "a winning combination of outstanding scientific engagement and outreach activities to women of all ages and backgrounds."

Cline, who earned her Ph.D. in computer science at UCSC in 2000, currently works on the UCSC Cancer Genomics Browser team. In 2013, she organized and led a summer research internship program for a group of mostly female high school students, working with them on cancer genomics projects that taught them technical and computational methods of managing genomic data. This is just one recent example of Cline's contributions to mentoring and outreach, according to Zia Isola, who directs diversity and outreach programs at CBSE and the Baskin School of Engineering.

"I first met Dr. Cline in 2009, when I sent out a general email to the research staff, asking for volunteers to participate in a science education event," Isola wrote in a nomination letter. "Dr. Cline was one of the first to respond to my email, and on the day of the event, she led a wonderful workshop that gave students hands-on experience in extracting the DNA from strawberries. She made the science very accessible, and it was clear that her enthusiasm was inspirational to the students. Since then, I have regularly called on Dr. Cline to participate in outreach events, and she has always given generously of her time and energy."

Cline is active in the UCSC Women in Science and Engineering group that provides support and mentoring for female students. She also participates in a variety of outreach activities, such as the annual Expanding Your Horizons events that give high school girls a chance to do hands-on science and learn about science careers. Cline also serves on the board of directors of the Santa Cruz chapter of Trips for Kids, a nonprofit community outreach organization.

On April 18, Cline will speak at an Alex's Lemonade Stand event, a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research which she helped organize, at the Baskin School of Engineering.

Cline will receive the Ellen Weaver Award at an AWIS awards banquet on May 5 in South San Francisco. She is the second UCSC scientist to win the award--Nadine Gassner received it in 2010. The Ellen Weaver Award was established by the Northern California Chapters of AWIS in honor of Ellen Weaver, a past president of AWIS who was a faculty member at San Jose State University until her retirement in 1991.

The Association for Women in Science champions the interests of women in science, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) across all disciplines and employment sectors. Working for positive system transformation, AWIS strives to ensure that all women in these fields can achieve their full potential.