Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Judy White, Ph.D., '73

Biology

I am a Professor of Cell Biology and of Microbiology at the University of Virginia. I teach medical and graduate students in the classroom, and graduate and undergraduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows in my research lab. Most of my time is spent on research; my topic areas are Membrane Biology and Virology, with a particular focus on the membrane proteins that project from the envelopes of membrane containing viruses such as influenza. These proteins are responsible for virus binding to and fusion with the host cell to initiate infections and are therefore targets for anti-viral intervention. I graduated from F&M in 1973 with a major in Chemistry, having done independent research in the Biochemistry laboratory of Dr. Carl Pike. From F&M, I went on to obtain a PhD (in Biophysics) from Harvard University and I then pursued postdoctoral work, first at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany and then at Yale University. I assumed my first faculty position in 1985 at the University of California, San Francisco, where I rose through the ranks from Assistant to Associate Professor with tenure. For a variety of reasons, I moved back to the East Coast in 1994 and assumed a position as a tenured Professor at the medical school of the University of Virginia, where I have been ever since.

My education at F&M was critical to my career path in several ways. Firstly, I obtained an excellent grounding in Chemistry, which served me well as a graduate student in Biophysics and thereafter as a practicing Biochemist. The small class sizes were ideal for in depth learning and the small number of students in the chemistry labs afforded much personal attention that I am sure contributed to my skills at the bench and in analyzing data. Secondly, I had the opportunity to begin independent research at F&M very early on. This was a fantastic opportunity working one-on-one with Dr. Pike learning new things about phytochromes. I even had the valuable experience of contributing to two publications. Thirdly, my professors encouraged me and guided me to two wonderful summer independent research experiences, one at Bryn Mawr College and one at the University of Rochester. Fourthly, it was really a lecture by Dr. Pike in a basic cell biology class that captured my interest in biological membranes and all of my research since has involved some membrane component. Fifthly, Dr. Ruth Van Horn was a very inspirational role model for me as a young female scientist. And lastly, my Professors encouraged me to “shoot high” for my graduate studies, which I did and which I have been doing ever since.

  • Alumni Profile: Judy White, Ph.D., '73