The Council of Graduate Schools / ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award, the nation’s most prestigious honor for doctoral dissertations, was presented to Caitlin Cornell during an award ceremony held at the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) 61st Annual Meeting in New Orleans on December 2, 2021. Dr. Cornell received her PhD in physical chemistry and biophysics from the University of Washington in 2019.
Dr. Cornell received the 2021 Award in Biological and Life Sciences for her dissertation, Lipid Membranes: From Organizational Strategies in Cells to the Origins of Life. Cornell’s dissertation research “bridges the gap between synthetic model membranes, cell-derived membranes, and living yeast organellar membranes.” Her work examines cell membranes, from the simplest forms to the most complex, to better understand how lipids found in cell membranes may contribute to improved protein function. In addition, she investigates the formation of the earliest protocell membranes billions of years ago. Dr. Cornell is currently a James S. McDonnell postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley’s Fletcher Lab.