Lizbeth Hedstrom Elected to AAAS

Professor Liz Hedstrom
Mike Lovett
Professor Liz Hedstrom
From drug development to green chemistry, biology professor Lizbeth Hedstrom’s work is proving the importance of enzyme research — and winning recognition. Elected in January as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Hedstrom, Ph.D.’86, is the 11th Brandeis faculty member to join the ranks of the academic society.

Critically relevant research played a key role in her election, of course, but simple serendipity proved no bit player in her career path. She was in the right hallway at the right time. It was 1980, and she was on the cusp of graduation from the University of Virginia when one of her professors asked about her career plans.

“When I told him that I didn’t know, he showed me a book of graduate programs, then made two phone calls — one to Penn State and one to Brandeis,” says Hedstrom. She had interviews the following week and settled on Brandeis.

More than two decades after that, Hedstrom is focused on elucidating the relationship between protein structure and function. Her lab is working hard to develop a new drug to treat cryptosporidiosis, which is caused by a nasty protozoan parasite that can contaminate drinking water supplies and potentially could be weaponized as a biowarfare agent. Her laboratory is also trying to understand the mechanism of inherited blindness.

“When I think about the impact that being in the right hallway at the right time has had on my life, it’s just incredible,” says Hedstrom.