Alumnus presents on career in biology research

Amy Sandquist

On Wednesday afternoon, Dr.
Kurt H. Albertine presented a talk
at the Science Hall Colloquium,
titled “From Here to There: An
Alumnus’ Trip from Plants to
Pediatrics.” Albertine, who graduated
from Lawrence in 1975,
framed his talk about his transformation
from biology major to
accomplished professor of pediatrics
around the research that has
led him on his academic journey.
Albertine began his talk and
PowerPoint presentation by briefly
describing the condition to which
his current research is dedicated:
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia, BPD
for short.
BPD occurs in infants born
prematurely whose lungs are not
fully developed and can have longterm
consequences for babies who
survive the condition. Eight to ten
thousand children are born with
BPD each year.
After giving his audience a little
background about BPD, Albertine
took a step back and explained the
factors that led him to his current
research.
A football player and devoted
biology student during his undergraduate
years, Albertine attended
Dr. Clarence N. Peiss’s lecture
at Lawrence in 1974. Peiss was
the dean of the medical school at
Loyola University in Chicago, and
when Albertine showed Peiss his
senior honors thesis, Peiss took the
unfinished paper back to Chicago.
Soon after, Peiss offered
Albertine admission and tuition
remission at Loyola’s medical
school. Albertine had not even
applied to the program.
During his talk, Albertine
credited serendipity for much
of his success; his hard work in
medical school led his mentor
to recommend Albertine to the
University of California, San
Francisco as a post-doctoral
fellow. Jokingly, Albertine said
that his graduate and postdoctoral
work took “no effort”
on his part.
Albertine’s talk was punctuated
with pictures of those
with whom he collaborated on
various research project and
papers in fun, social settings.
By putting faces to the names
and degrees listed before the
journal articles to which he
referred, Albertine gave his
research a human face and
emphasized the teamwork
involved in undertaking extensive
scientific study.
At the end of his presentation,
Albertine showed an
eclectic mix of PowerPoint
slides that included a map of
the United States with arrows
that mapped the places that
his research has taken him
over the years.
He also included a photo of
mountains in Park City, Utah,
the city where he currently
lives.
Last, Albertine showed a
picture of the fossil of a previously
unknown plant species
that he discovered in Wyoming
in 2006, a plant species that
will be officially named after
him in the next couple years.
According to Albertine, his
recent discovery of a new
plant species proves that his
botany-focused biology studies
at Lawrence have allowed
him to come full circle in his
academic pursuits.
During a brief question
and answer session at the end
of his talk, Albertine offered
students advice for post-graduation
work. “Always have a
project and then always have
one or two side projects,” he
urged.
By having more than one
research project, Albertine
contended that students will
be able to publish papers
more frequently and more
effectively engage in academic
discourse. During his career,
Albertine has had over 120
peer-reviewed articles published
and has contributed 32
chapters to books and reviews.

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