January 29, 2016


The Karpay Award, established in 2010 to honor the memory of Dr. Anne Karpay, recognizes one senior graduate student who is a well-rounded colleague and scientist, who is collaborative and collegial and who has performed exceptional research in the field of structural biology. Dr. Karpay exemplified each characteristic and demonstrated a passion for science, friendship and life in general.

Norie Sugitani was named the 2017 recipient of The Karpay Award in Structural Biology. "I am very thankful and honored to receive the Karpay Award," Norie said. 

Norie was a member of the Chazin Lab and is investigating the primary pathway for the repair of the resulting DNA lesions, nucleotide excision repair. She chose this research because of her lifelong dream of being an astronaut and one of the major health challenges facing astronauts is high exposure to radiation from the sun. Her research has led to collaborations with the labs of Tony Capra at Vanderbilt, Orlando Scharer at Cold Spring Harbor and Zachary Nagel at Harvard University. 

Norie's aspirations of traveling to space began at an early age in her home in Western Japan. The chose to attend the University of Alabama - Huntsville (UAH) because of its close connections to NASA and space science. There, she began the scientific training required to become a payload scientist and honed her English skills. She eventually found a home in structural biology and earned her B.S. in Biology. After completing her degree, she came to Vanderbilt to work as a research assistant in the Chazin Lab and eventually joined the Chemistry graduate program. She later joined the Chazin Lab for her thesis research. 

Norie presented "Scaffolding branches: XPA in DNA repair and graduate school survival" on Tuesday, January 17, in 1220 MRB3 as part of the MBTP/CSB Seminar series.

"Although I didn't get the opportunity to meet Dr. Karpay in person," said Norie. "Learning about her through her friends and all the previous award talks has been definitely inspiring for me as a graduate student." 

Previous Karpay Award recipients are: 

2011 Yoana Dimitrova

2012 Chris Brosey

2013 Paul Barrett

2014 Nichole Chumbler

2015 Kathleen Mittendorf

2016 Qiuyan Chen