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Dr. Gail Waring – MU Faculty 1978-Present

WaringDr. Gail Waring earned both her B.S. and M.S. from San Francisco State University where she worked with Dr. S.T. Bowen on brine shrimp hemoglobins collected from the local salt flats in Palo Alto California. The research was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Shooter of the Genetics Department at Stanford Medical School, the site of Dr. Bowen’s sabbatical leave.

Interested in biological phenomena at the molecular level, Dr. Waring did her doctoral studies at the University of Oregon with Dr. Charles Kimmel as a NIH pre-doctoral trainee in the Institute of Molecular Biology.

At Oregon, Dr. Waring worked on the regulation of antibody secretion in plasma cells using cultured myeloma cells as an experimental system. This work led to the development of a novel screening method to detect aberrations in antibody secretion and antigen binding in cultured cells. The isolation of several variant clones revealed a connection between carbohydrate addition and the ability of molecules to exit the cell.

Intrigued with the power of combining genetics and biochemistry to understand cellular processes, Dr. Waring accepted a postdoctoral position in Dr. Anthony Mahowald’s laboratory at Indiana University. She was drawn to the lab by the prospects of doing biochemistry in what was then the premier eukaryotic organism for genetics, Drosophila. At the time, the Mahowald lab had just published their classic germ plasm transplantation experiment showing that germ plasm is sufficient for germ cell induction. Working with a stable of talented graduate and postdoctoral students including Allan Spradling, David Allis, and Kathleen Karrer, isolating and characterizing the germ cell determinant became their “Holy Grail”

As an off-shoot of these studies, Spradling and Dr. Waring uncovered eggshell genes and proteins that provided the framework for her research career at Marquette. In the late 70's, with a job market flooded with applicants, Dr. Waring was pleased to accept the position offered her at Marquette. Her interest in Marquette stemmed from the insight she was able to draw from her postdoctoral mentor who was a former Marquette faculty member, and her postdoctoral colleague, Kathleen Karrer, who received her undergraduate degree from Marquette. In retrospect, Dr. Waring feels Marquette was an excellent choice for her, as she has come to embrace its teacher/scholar model.

Much of Dr. Waring’s work in the 1980’s focused on identifying, cloning, and characterizing eggshell genes. Her first wave of graduate students included Joe Fargnoli, Beverly Bauer, Bob Hawley, Tom Burke, Ellen Popodi, Smita Savant, and Tom Schoenfeld. With the discovery of a means to genetically transform Drosophila using transposable elements in the early 80’s, Dr. Waring’s lab entered the transgenic organism arena. These studies paved the way for many of their subsequent studies on structure/function analyses of eggshell genes and proteins. Those that became adept at Waring Labinjecting thousands of Drosophila embryos with DNA included graduate students Smita Savant, Jim Badciong, Frank Fokta, Debra Mauzy Melitz, Anita Manogaran, Dan Spangenberg, and Tianyi Wu. During the 90’s their attention began to focus on how the eggshell assembles. This ushered in a period in which they used fusion proteins to make a library of antibodies against selected regions of a variety of eggshell proteins. These antibodies were instrumental in uncovering several post-translational cleavage events that occur within the vitelline membrane layer of the eggshell as well as revealing trafficking of selected proteins between the different layers as eggshell assembly progresses. Spearheading these studies in the late 90’s were graduate students Terri Pascucci and Isabel Nogueron. Reverse genetics has been the mantra of Dr. Waring’s lab since the start of the millennium. These studies have included functional conservation of rapidly evolving eggshell genes (Jim Badciong and Jeff Otto) as well as genetic dissection of the dec-1 (Debra Mauzy Melitz and Dan Spangenberg) and sV23 eggshell genes (Anita Manogaran and Tianyi Wu). In addition to the aforementioned graduate students, countless undergraduates have participated in these studies over the years. Most recently undergraduates Jessica Beauchamp and Tyler Harvey have been indispensable players in the lab.

As a teacher/scholar, involving undergraduates in her research has been a passion of Dr. Waring’s for several years. Her involvement at the Department level began in the 1990s when as part of an HHMI-sponsored undergraduate education initiative she organized and directed a multi-disciplinary summer research program that involved investigators from six different departments at Marquette as well as mentors from the Medical College of Wisconsin. She served as co-PI of an NSF-REU site directed by Dr. Stephen Munroe from 2001-2004. From 2005-2008, she directed an internally funded summer research program, and more recently (2009-present) has been Director of a NSF-REU site on Cell and Molecular Biology.

Beyond working with students in the laboratory, one of the most enjoyable aspects of Dr. Waring’s tenure at Marquette has been classroom teaching. Helping students stretch their minds and begin to recognize their potential never gets old. She had the pleasure of engaging students in experimental science from 1978-1996 in the Cell Biology lab, since then has been exposing students to the wonders of cell biology through the lecture course.

Waring Outside of science, Dr. Waring is an amateur violinist, and a longtime patron of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Broadway theater. She is also an avid sports enthusiast, ardently supporting Marquette’s Warriors/Golden Eagles basketball and Brewers baseball. Dr. Waring is a retired 2nd baseman and catcher for the MU Biology Department Softball team.

Dr. Waring can also brag of a strong family connection to the Marquette Biological Sciences Department. Her husband, Michael Goodspeed is a graduate of the biology department, and of Marquette Dental School. He worked with Dr. Bela Piacsek (Professor Emeritus) and was lab partners with Dr. Kathleen Karrer. Dr. Waring’s daughter, Lauren Goodspeed, is a familiar face to many as well. She worked in our office for 4 years (2007-2011). Lauren is also an MU grad, with degrees in Public Relations and French.

Notable awards:

2005 Association Marquette University Women Faculty Achievement Award

1995 Robert and Mary Gettel Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, Marquette University

1983-88 NIH Research Career Development Award





Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7355