Fellow Award 2022

The Society for In Vitro Biology established the Fellow Award to recognize outstanding professionals who have made significant contributions to the field of in vitro biology and demonstrated service to the Society. The Society for In Vitro Biology honored Dr. Mae Ciancio, Dr. Maria M. Jenderek, Dr. Kolla Kristjansdottir, and Dr. J. Pon Samuel with Fellow Awards at  the 2022 In Vitro Biology Meeting, the Annual Meeting of the Society for In Vitro Biology. Dr. Ciancio and Dr. Samuel’s Fellow Awards are highlighted in this issue of the In Vitro Report, and Dr. Jenderek and Dr. Kristjansdottir were highlighted in the last issue of the In Vitro Report.


2022 SIVB Fellow Award Recipient

Dr. Maria M. Jenderek
Dr. Mae Ciancio


Dr. Mae Ciancio was a recipient of the Society for In Vitro Biology (SIVB) Fellow Award at the 2022 In Vitro Biology Meeting in San Diego, CA (June 4 – 7, 2022). Dr. Ciancio earned a BA degree in Chemistry from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). She then earned a PhD at Loyola University-Chicago in the Physiology Department at the Stritch School of Medicine (Maywood, IL). After earning her doctoral degree, she completed a Postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Eugene Chang at the University of Chicago Department of Medicine (Chicago, IL). She held the following academic positions prior to joining the faculty of Midwestern University (MWU) full-time: Research Associate at University of Chicago, Research Associate/Instructor at University of Chicago, Assistant Professor/Adjunct Faculty at Lewis University, Research Associate/Assistant Professor at University of Chicago, and Adjunct faculty/Assistant Professor at MWU. In 2008, Dr. Ciancio was hired full-time as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Sciences Program in the College of Health Sciences at MWU. In 2014, she was promoted to Associate Professor and granted tenure. In 2018, the Biomedical Sciences Program was incorporated into the newly founded College of Graduate Studies (CGS) at MWU. The new CGS consists of the Biomedical Sciences Masters Programs (MA, MBS) on the MWU Illinois and Arizona campuses, the basic science departments on the two MWU campuses (Anatomy, Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, Microbiology & Immunology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology), and the on-line Master of Public Health and Precision Medicine Programs. In addition to her primary faculty appointment in CGS, Mae also has joint appointments with the MWU College of Dental Medicine-Illinois, the MWU Physical Therapy Program in the College of Health Sciences, and the MWU Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. In 2019, Mae was selected to serve as the Program Coordinator for the 21-month research-based Master of Biomedical Sciences Program. In this role she works with students, research mentors and thesis committee members to facilitate successful completion of the research thesis requirements for the MBS students.
Dr. Jenderek

SIVB President Addy Alt-Holland thanks Dr. Mae Ciancio for her efforts in support of the SIVB at the 2022 In Vitro Biology Meeting

Dr. Ciancio has a strong research background from her training at Loyola University-Chicago and the University of Chicago.  Her research interests as a faculty member at MWU consists of several collaborative research projects that incorporates students from multiple colleges/programs at MWU. The first project consists of examining the effects of dietary exercise on diet-induced obesity, with a focus on examining the contributions of HSP-70, macrophage polarization, nutrient transport, and the intestinal microbiota. The second research project involves studying the protective effects of HSP-70 against Chlamydia muridarum-induced genitourinary pathology. The third research project involves studying the pathogenic mechanisms of oral cancer. She has received extramural funding from the American Physical Therapy Association, the NIH NIDDK-STEP UP Program, the University of Chicago, NIH Supplemental Award for Re-entry to academic research, the Gastro-intestinal Research Foundation, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Inc. Mae has also been involved with several projects related to the scholarship of teaching and learning. These projects include examining the effectiveness of Wikipedia as a resource for evidence-based practice in dental medicine; examining limitations to using evidence-based practice in the dental profession; and examining self-perception of professionalism amongst students enrolled in different health-professional programs. Dr. Ciancio has 23 peer-reviewed publications, and 59 peer-reviewed abstracts from presentations at scientific conferences. Dr. Ciancio is an active and effective student research mentor. She has mentored over 90 students in her laboratory since joining the faculty at MWU, and these students include: Biomedical Sciences students, College of Dental Medicine students, Osteopathic Medical students, undergraduate students (including NIH NIDDK Step-Up students), and high school students.

Dr Ciancio is an excellent teacher as evidenced by her outstanding course and instructor evaluations. Mae was hired in 2008 to teach the Research Design and Methodology course for the Biomedical Sciences students, which is a required course for students in the 21-month research-based Master of Biomedical Sciences Program and an elective option for students in the 9-month Master of Arts in Biomedical Sciences Program; this course is also a required for the Physical Therapy students. Mae does an excellent job teaching the Research Design course and incorporates examples into her lectures that apply to both basic science research and clinical research. There is a workshop session in the Research Design & Methodology course for the Biomedical Sciences students and Mae uses the workshop to demonstrate how different research models (in vitro and in vivo) are used to complement each other to address important research questions. In addition, Mae developed an elective course for the Biomedical Sciences students titled “Intestinal Bacteria in Health & Disease” which incorporates her research interests. Mae has also served as course director and instructor for the required Seminar courses for the Master of Biomedical Sciences students. For the Biomedical Sciences Professional Development course, Mae reviews student resumes, personal statements, and provides mock professional school interviews. Furthermore, Mae provides lectures in the Pathophysiology and Literature Review courses for the Biomedical Sciences Program. It should be noted that Mae is also involved in teaching research design and evidence-based practice concepts to the Dental students at MWU. She also teaches in the physical therapy Clinical Conditions course, the Physician Assistant Research Seminar course, and facilitates Physiology workshops for the Osteopathic Medical students in the Medical Physiology course.

Dr. Ciancio has extensive service responsibilities at MWU. As a faculty member in the Biomedical Sciences Program, she has served on the Admissions Committee, Academic Review Committee (Chair), Accreditation and Self Study Committee (Chair), and Education Committee (Chair).  She serves on the CGS Student Promotion and Graduation Committee and CGS curriculum Committee; and she is currently the Chair of the CGS Curriculum Committee.  Mae has served on the following University Committees: Faculty Development Committee, IACUC, Institutional Biosafety Committee, Dental Ad Hoc Committee on Research, Dental Ad Hoc Committee on Curriculum/Critical Thinking/Self-Assessment, Testing Center Committee, Interprofessional Education Committee, Dental Accreditation Committees, University Cultural Diversity Education Committee, 8-Year Research Committee, University Academic Assessment Committee (Chair), and the CHS Rank & Tenure Committee. During 2009 – 2017 Mae served on the MWU Faculty Senate as a representative for the College of Health Sciences and severed as the Secretary of the Faculty Senate for part of this time. In addition, she serves as the faculty sponsor of the Women’s Health Student Organization.  Other service activities include serving as an ad hoc reviewer for peer-reviewed journals (Digestive Disease Sciences, PLOS ONE, Journal of Dental Research), including In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Animal.

Dr. Ciancio has been an active member of the SIVB since she joined the society in 2011.  She has served as a co-convener of the following five symposia/plenary sessions at the annual SIVB meeting: 1) “The Human Microbiome: What is known and What is Next” (2013); 2) “MicroRNA and Cancer symposium” (2015); 3) “Microbiome Challenges to Scale” (2017); 4) The Importance of the Microbiome for Animal and Plant Health” (2019); and 5) Microbiome in Mammalian Health” (2020). In addition, Mae has served as the convener for the “IVACS Contributed Paper Session” at our annual meetings. She also serves as a judge for the IVACS Student and Postdoctoral Fellow Oral Presentation competition. Mae is an active participant at the annual In Vitro Biology meetings, and she encourages the students working in her lab to present their research at the SIVB meetings. Dr. Ciancio served as the Program Chair for the 2022 In Vitro Biology meeting in San Diego, CA, and she currently serves on the SIVB Board of Directors as the Secretary.

The Society for In Vitro Biology congratulates Dr. Mae Ciancio on her well- deserved SIVB Fellow Award.

Submitted by,
Michael J. Fay, Ph.D.


2022 SIVB Fellow Award Recipient

Dr. Kolbrun (Kolla) Kristjansdottir

Dr. J. Pon Samuel


We congratulate Dr. J. Pon Samuel as a 2022 SIVB Fellow Award recipient. Pon became a member of the SIVB in 1992 when he first joined as a graduate student while presenting his research at the former Tissue Culture Association (TCA) annual meeting. Over the last three decades, Pon has been heavily involved with the Society in helping plan annual meetings, organizing and convening plenary and PB section sessions, and organizing and facilitating full-day flow cytometry workshops. Pon served as the PBS Program Chair and Co-Chair from 2015-2017 and has received several awards, including service and distinguished service awards and the 2018 Distinguished Scientist award. Pon also serves on the Development Committee and has secured significant funds for the Society over the years. Dr. Pon Samuel obtained his B.S. in Plant Sciences from St. John’s College, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India, in 1977; his M.Sc. in Plant Sciences from Madras Christian College, Chennai, India, in 1979; and his M.Phil. in Plant Physiology from Madras Christian College, Chennai, India in 1985. Pon received his Ph.D. in Plant Physiology as a sandwich program from the University of Madras, Chennai, India, and Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, Germany, in 1991. Pon began his career as a lecturer at Madras Christian College, Madras University, India, teaching microbiology, plant anatomy, experimental embryogeny, plant physiology, biochemistry, and horticulture, among other plant science courses. Pon also taught plant tissue culture after starting the university’s first tissue culture lab. Pon discovered the anatomical structures of specialized air passages in Liliaceae and added the new anatomy terms “included epidermis” and “included stomata”. Pon also supervised M.Phil. students and mentored countless bachelor and graduate students. As a student himself, Pon discovered two novel auxin-like plant growth regulators.
Dr. Jenderek

Dr. J. Pon Samuel, 2022 Fellow Award recipient with nominator, Jeff Beringer

Pon was a Post-doctoral Research Scientist at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Oklahoma, from 1993-1996. He developed several plant tissue culture systems, including Caucasian bluestem, green bean, peanut, soybean, alfalfa, and tobacco. Pon also established the core transformation and microscopy labs at the Noble Foundation and was the project focal point for the external collaborations with Procter & Gamble (peanut oil model system) and DuPont (grain legume regeneration system).

In 1996 Pon joined the lab of Dr. Jack Widholm at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he worked on various projects, including the development of ALS herbicide-tolerant soybeans and the public Agrobacterium-mediated Soybean Cot-node transformation system. Pon also served as a key North Central Soybean Research Group member.

Pon joined Dow Agrosciences (DAS) in 1999, now Corteva Agriscience, as a scientist in Cell Biology and is currently a Corteva Laureate and group leader of the In Vitro Protein Expression Platform for Biotech Discovery. Pon led and made significant contributions to several projects that include nanoparticle-mediated delivery systems for plant cells; development of the ExZACT™ gene editing tool; the Enlist™ weed control system;  plant cell-expressed animal health vaccines; and developed in vitro crop systems including sunflower, canola, cotton, maize, soybean, and others. Pon was involved in creating the DAS cryo banking system and has over 9,000 accessions. Pon also worked to develop and advance the company’s maize, soybean, and cotton products of significant commercial value, including Corteva’s Enlist E3TM soybeans. Pon was also instrumental in developing, with an external partner, the tobacco BY2-Cell Free system currently licensed to LenioBio and distributed by Millipore-Sigma.  Pon was a key contributor in licensing a proprietary genome editing tool to industrial competitors. Pon was also a Visiting Scientist at Purdue University’s Bindley Bioscience and Birck Nanotechnology Center. He developed new enabling technologies using single plant cells and functionalized nanocarriers for molecular delivery into plants. Other significant contributions to plant sciences and the business sector include over 50 publications, more than 30 patents, multiple invention disclosures, and Dow’s New Venture Concept Builder award. 

Pon is widely recognized as a caring mentor and a trusted scientific pillar and has shaped the careers of a multitude of individuals over the years. In 2017, Pon was selected by his peers to receive the DAS Trait Product Development (TPD) Mentorship award. In 2022, Pon was elevated to Corteva Laureate – a high distinction in the company. Externally, Pon has organized NSF-sponsored workshops with Morgan State University, teaching students in various scientific areas and technical training.

We are delighted to celebrate Pon’s well-deserved recognition as a recipient of the 2022 SIVB Fellow Award. We would also like to extend a hearty appreciation for his dedication and continued support for the organization.

Submitted by Lori Marcum and Jeff Beringer

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