Arizona Cancer Evolution Center (ACE)

Outreach

Investigators

Pauline Davies

Pauline Davies

Professor of Practice, Arizona State University

Pauline Davies is an award winning radio science and health broadcaster with an extensive international career.  She spent many years with the BBC’s World Service where her programs reached audiences of tens of millions worldwide.  Her topics ranged from fundamental physics to human origins and she has reported from conflict zones on maternal health and combatant injuries. She continues to make documentaries from across the sciences for public broadcasters worldwide.  Now she collaborates with the Mayo Clinic on a project to help prevent physician burnout, but her main specialization is the dissemination of cancer research. She led the outreach and education component of an NCI Physical Sciences and Oncology Center for 5 years and is excited to work with her talented ACE colleagues in finding new ways to bring fundamental research findings to the science community and the public.

Athena Aktipis

Athena Aktipis

Assistant Professor, Arizona State University

Athena Aktipis  is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Arizona State University, co-Director of the Human Generosity Project and Director of Human and Social Evolution and co-founder of the Center for Evolution and Cancer at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Aktipis completed her BA at Reed College (Psychology), her PhD at University of Pennsylvania (Psychology) and post-doctoral work at University of Arizona (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology). She is a cooperation theorist, theoretical evolutionary biologist, and cancer biologist who now works at the intersection of these fields. Dr. Aktipis is the author of the forthcoming book from Princeton University Press “Evolution in the flesh: Cancer and the transformation of life.”

Pam Winfrey

Pam Winfrey

Scientific Research Curator, Arizona State University

Pamela Winfrey is the Scientific Research Curator for two labs within the Biodesign Institute; the Carlo Maley Lab (evolution and ecology of cancer) and the Athena Aktipis Lab (cooperation and conflict). Her expertise is in the intersection between science and art and the human narrative that connects the two disciplines. She has a long history of curating exhibitions, performances, and events that explore everything from mental health to brain computer interface (BCI), digital clothing to The Really Big Questions. She is also an award winning playwright, screenwriter, and novelist and enjoys writing works that explore the relationship between surrealism, science, and perception and mixing those elements into a cerebral stew. She is an emeritus at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (2016), served as the lead curatorial consultant for emerging artforms at Creative Capital (2009), and represented the United States on the Interactive Arts panel at Ars Electronica in Linz (2006). She has an MFA in television and screenwriting from Stephens College, MO. (2018), an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from San Francisco State (1994), and a BA in theater from Macalester College in St. Paul, MINN. (1979). She is currently working on a commission to write a novel on the Italian architect, Palladio. For more information, go to: www.pamelawinfrey.com

Paul Davies

Paul Davies

Regents Professor, Arizona State University

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and best-selling science author. He has published about 30 books and hundreds of research papers and review articles across a range of scientific fields. He is also well-known as a media personality and science popularizer in several countries. His research interests have focused mainly on quantum gravity, early universe cosmology, the theory of quantum black holes and the nature of time. He has also made important contributions to the field of astrobiology, and was an early advocate of the theory that life on Earth may have originated on Mars. For several years he has also been running a major cancer research project, and developed a new theory of cancer based on tracing its deep evolutionary origins. Among his many awards are the 1995 Templeton Prize, the Faraday Prize from The Royal Society, the Kelvin Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics, the Robinson Cosmology Prize and the Bicentenary Medal of Chile. He was made a member of the Order of Australia in the 2007 Queen’s birthday honours list and the asteroid 6870 Pauldavies is named after him. His more recent books include About Time, The Origin of Life, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life?, How to Build a Time Machine and The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe?

Valerie Harris

Valerie Harris

Doctoral Student, Arizona State University

Valerie’s work focuses in on comparative oncology, which aims to compare the rates, incidence and etiology of cancers across animals and throughout the Tree of Life. She is primarily interested in studying the incidence of cancer in wild-caught flighted animals: bats and birds. In addition to gaining valuable insights into the incidence of cancer in wild, natural populations of animals, she hopes that her work can be translated into a One-Health perspective, a concept that closely ties the health of wild animals and humans to the ecosystems that we share. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology in 2014 from Arizona State University, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Biological Design.

Volunteer

Seema Plaisier

Seema Plaisier

Volunteer Scientist

Dr. Plaisier is a passionate scientist and communicator. Building on a foundation of undergraduate studies in computer science and biology from the University of Rochester, Dr. Plaisier earned a doctorate in Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. There she used high-throughput genomics and proteomics techniques to study aberant cell signaling pathways downstream of oncogenes and mutated tumor suppressors in various cancers. This work was used to develop a computational analysis tool called Rank-Rank Hypergeometric Overlap (RRHO) that compares two differential expression profiles to discern statistically significant co-expression patterns and allows graphical visualization of those patterns. Dr.Plaisier has enjoyed teaching and leadership roles throughout her career. She was selected to be a workshop leader in computer science where she taught and mentored computer science students taking on challenging interactive projects as a team. She has led laboratory sections in molecular biology as a teaching assistant. She has trained other scientists on the use of RRHO as a graduate student and a bioinformatics consultant at the John Wayne Cancer Insitute in Santa Monica, CA. Most recently, Dr. Plaisier has been focusing on hands-on science demonstrations for children in preschool to fifth grade. She has guest lectured in elementary schools and preschools in Chandler, AZ and Seattle, WA, at Girl Scouts meeting as a leader, at Camp Adventure science camp for kids with special needs out of University of Washington in Seattle, and science playdates out of her own home. Dr.Plaisier has also developed a new course on Bioinformatics for Bellevue College in Bellevue, WA. All in all, Dr.Plaisier believes in the promise of scientific advancement through research and development and works hard to inspire a love of science in children.

Advocate

Chevas Samuels

Patient Advocate

Chevas is an ASU-Cronkite alumna and writer and just a few years ago, she was a student and working with the former NCI funded Physical Sciences-Oncology Center at ASU. Back then, she never expected what she was learning about cancer to be useful, so soon, in her own life.

“Something was wrong, so I went to the doctor. It was Stage 1 Endometrial Cancer and I’m so happy I applied what I learned working with the ASU PS-OC and listening to my body, because we found it early and now I’m Cancer-free.”

When Chevas worked for the ASU Center, she was completing her broadcast journalism major, so it was a natural fit to help with the public outreach of the Center and to produce the newsletter on behalf of the PS-OC network. Now she is delighted to be a patient advocate with ACE, making use of her experience with working for the NCI and as a former cancer patient.

“I’m happy and honored to help with this latest Cancer Project, because now I have a different outlook on this disease. I feel more devoted by sharing my truth and I feel more responsible to everyone, including my own community, in making sure that we’re seeking preventive care, not just emergency care, and we’re living in a healthier way by educating ourselves about this disease, our family histories regarding cancer and the likelihood of being affected by it.  And new ways to help everyone understand and treat the disease are so important.”

 Chevas adds: “If there was one thing I could tell everyone about Cancer, it would be to go to the doctor regularly, but go more often if something, even if the slightest little thing seems off, see your doctor, it could make a difference to the rest of your life.”

Outreach

We love to talk about our work and explain what we do. Make sure to review our events section for public lectures and seminars.