The Lamar University chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, hosts Alison Williams, the Sigma Xi National Distinguished Lecturer on “Who will do science in the 21st Century?” The lecture, which is free of charge and open to the public, will be at 7:30 p.m., April 10, in Geology Room 101.

Williams, a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at , is originally from . She began her scientific career washing glassware and weighing manure in a dairy science research lab in high school.Wooster, OhioPrinceton University
Williams received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry at the . She has taught at Swarthmore College, Wesleyan University, and .Princeton UniversityRutgers UniversityUniversity of RochesterWesleyan University
Her current research focuses on the influence of environment, especially ions, on physical properties of DNA oligonucleotides, a short segment of RNA or DNA, typically with 20 or fewer bases. Williams’ research seeks to understand the properties of nucleic acids in terms of their local chemical structure and environment.
The thrust of the work is to study the behavior of oligonucleic acids with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how short sequences of nucleic acids respond to a variety of conditions. Additionally, she would like to know how oligonucleotides interact with other species. The research group explores three components of nucleic acid structure: the phosphate groups, the sugars and the bases. Knowledge gained from this investigation can then be applied to furthering understanding of biological systems involving short nucleic acids.
She has been nationally recognized for her outreach and mentoring efforts and has been named a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer for 2006-2008.
As an administrator at , she has served as a dean of freshmen and sophomores and the associate director of the Program in Diversity and Graduate Recruiting for the Department of Molecular Biology. In her “free time” she is a semiprofessional oboist, enjoys sports and is the mother of a son, 8, and a daughter, 4.Princeton
Her honors include being named the Lloyd N. Ferguson Outstanding Young Scientist by the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, 1998; as the recipient of the Kathryn L. Morgan Award for Service to the Community by Swarthmore College, 1996; and as a Minority Graduate Student Fellow, , 1981-1984.National Science Foundation
For more information on the lecture call Jim Westgate, professor of earth and space sciences, at 880-7970.