Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2003

Where Are They Now?



Charlotte C. Mather
First Elected Female Student Body President Continues Political Work
Being the first UF woman to be elected student body president was a challenge, but it gave Charlotte C. Mather (BS, Political Science, 1984) the basis for her career. Now almost 20 years later, Mather continues to represent a diverse body serving as vice president of government relations and public affairs for the North Broward Hospital District, but UF was where it all began.

"Serving as Student Government President taught me everything I needed to know about politics, serving my community and working collaboratively with others to achieve the greater good for the people I am representing," she says. "One of my priorities was to open up student government to students who never felt they could participate before." Mather says this commitment has not stopped and she is proud to work for an organization that is dedicated to diversity from bottom to top.

Working for the North Broward Hospital District has allowed her to meet inspirational people--including fellow Gators doing great things for Florida--while contributing to the health care needs of area residents. She oversees the hospital district's development, implementation and administration of strategic initiatives in legislative and public policy and represents the district before the federal, state and local levels of government. "Some of my friends say I work too much, and I probably do, but I feel what I do is important and I truly enjoy my work," she says.

In addition to serving the nation's sixth largest hospital district, Mather remains actively involved with several community organizations, such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Leadership Broward.

Mather says that while UF has played an integral part in Florida history during its 150 years of existence, she hopes to see more woman leaders in its future. "I think it is important for all women to know that they should never let a group of people or a person hold them back from pursuing their dreams."

--Kimberly A. Lopez

Marshall Nirenberg
Nobel Laureate Refuses to Retire
Marshall Nirenberg, winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, has known since childhood he wanted to be a researcher. "I have always been interested in science, from the time I was very young," he said.

After graduating from Orlando Senior High School in 1945, he enrolled at UF as a biology major. He was a member of Pi Lambda Phi fraternity and had a part-time job as a teaching assistant in nutrition labs. He graduated in 1948 and went on to receive a master's degree in zoology from UF in 1952. "I can't tell you how much I enjoyed my time at the University of Florida," he said. "It was a wonderful experience, both as an undergraduate and graduate student."

Nirenberg earned a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1957 and received a post-doctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health. After two years, the NIH offered him a full-time job as an independent investigator, and he has worked for the organization ever since.

One of his first projects for the NIH was studying the steps that relate DNA, RNA and protein. These investigations led to the demonstration that messenger RNA is required for protein synthesis and can be used to decipher various aspects of the genetic code. Nirenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1968, along with Robert W. Holley and H. Gobind Khorana.

Nirenberg continues to work for the NIH and is currently working on a project examining the genes that affect the nervous system of fruit flies. His wife of more than forty years, Perola Zaltzman, died last year. She was a biochemist for the NIH. Nirenberg resides in Bethesda, Maryland and is still as fascinated by science as he was as a little boy and has no plans of retiring. "I plan to work as long as I'm able."

--Buffy Lockette


Photos:
Courtesy Charlotte Mathers: Mathers
Courtesy Katrina Blair, National Institute of Health / National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute: Nirenberg

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