a blog by the NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology
Author: Galya Orr
I was borne in Israel, which despite all you might have heard, is a beautiful place where most people wish to live and let live in peace. I grew up in a quiet neighborhood at the top of Mount Carmel, watching the Mediterranean Sea changing colors through the seasons and wondering what’s there on the other side. In high school, I was really lucky to have an amazing biology teacher that opened my eyes to the fascinating rules live things operate by.
I got my bachelor degree from Israel Institute of Technology - the Technion, where I had to take too many math, physics and chemistry courses before I was allowed to focus on my real interest in molecular biology. In retrospect, I have to admit, taking these courses gave me real strong tools and basis for thinking through challenging biological questions.
I went on to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Arizona, fascinated by our ability to capture abstract thoughts and information and convert them to real memories physically stored in our brain. Using electrophysiology and molecular biology, we studied the changes that happen in the synapses as animals learned and stored new information. These years were amazing, intellectually challenging and humbling, as we tried to get a glimpse into the mind and brain connection.
From there I followed my husband and joined the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and although there was no neuroscience there, I found a whole new challenging world where we have been developing techniques to better understand the living cell, trying to push the sensitivity, accuracy and resolution in time and space to new levels.
It has been 13 great years at PNNL, where I have been a senior research scientist, currently leading a powerful team of scientists that develop and apply new techniques to study tiny things, such as proteins or nanoparticles, and their interactions within the living cell. I can’t wait to share our techniques and experience with my colleagues in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology and together push our understanding of how nanoparticles interact with the living cell to a whole new level.