State Fullerton Professor Selected for Prestigious Wang
Biochemist Maria Linder Praised by
President, Colleagues, Students
April 25, 2007 :: No. 183
Maria Linder, a 30-year faculty member at California State
University, Fullerton, chair of the university’s Chemistry
and Biochemistry Department, winner of nearly 20 major awards
and fellowships, and author or co-author of more than 120
published articles, has been selected to receive the California
State University system’s prestigious Wang Family Excellence
She will be recognized Thursday by the CSUF Academic Senate
for the honor.
Only four faculty professors from the entire 23-campus CSU — the
nation’s largest university system — are chosen
annually from among the CSU’s 23,000 faculty members
to receive the Wang Award.
The award was established in 1998 by CSU Trustee Stanley
T. Wang to recognize those who have distinguished themselves
by their contributions in their academic disciplines and
are having a discernable effect on students.
“I’m so happy that she won the award,” said Cal State Fullerton
President Milton A. Gordon. “She has been an outstanding faculty member
every year she’s been here. Maria Linder is one of those who has given
of themselves to students and to science quietly, consistently and every day.”
Gordon pointed out that Linder was named Cal State Fullerton’s
Outstanding Professor in 1985 and was named the College of
Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) Distinguished Faculty
Member in 1992 and 1998. In addition, she won the college’s
Outstanding Research Award in 1995 and in 2002.
NSM Dean Steven Murray said, “She has compiled a superb
scholarly record, but her impact extends far beyond simple
counts of peer-reviewed publications and the dollar amounts
of grants received. Dr. Linder is one of those rare individuals
who is a truly a difference-maker — not only through
her research on the biochemistry of iron and copper, but
also in how she has changed the lives of the many students
who she has so ably and personally nurtured and mentored.”
A CSUF graduate who agrees with Murray’s assessment
of Linder is Navid Madani (B.S. biochemistry ’89, M.S.
chemistry ’92) who first became her student in 1987.
Linder was also her undergraduate and graduate research adviser.
With a doctorate in biochemistry and as an expert on the
AIDS virus, Madani is now a researcher and an instructor
in pathology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an affiliate
of Harvard Medical School.
“I am involved in AIDS awareness and education programs internationally.
The combination of laboratory investigation and my international work has allowed
me to pursue a career where I can make an immediate impact on people’s
lives. I believe that my success in science and humanitarian work is largely
due to Maria Linder and her mentorship,” Madani said.
A more recent former student, Lawrence Wilson Gray (B.S.
biological science ‘05), had this to say about Linder: “It
is not too often that the professor-student relationship
spans as many different realms as the dynamic one shared
by Dr. Maria Linder and me. She taught, coached and trained
me as a student, a mentee and a scientist. She provided me
with additional help outside of her scheduled office hours
and even on the weekend. She saw great potential, she explained
to me later, at a time when I surely lacked self-confidence.
I directly attribute her dedication to teaching as the impetus
to my past and current achievements.” Gray is
now pursuing a doctorate in biochemistry at Oregon Health
and Science University.
Among her other professional and academic associations, Linder
is the co-director of the National Science Foundation Research
Experiences for Undergraduates Project at CSUF and garnered
renewed NSF funding this spring of $213,000 for the program.
Her books, “Biochemistry of Copper,” co-written
with C.A. Goode (1991, Plenum. Linder wrote nine of 10 chapters),
and “Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism (1985,
1991, Elsevier, Appleton-Lange) continue to be influential. “Biochemistry
of Copper” is described as the “Bible” among
researchers and students in that field, Gordon said, and “Nutritional
Biochemistry and Metabolism,” a standard text for graduate-level
nutritional biochemistry courses, has been translated into
Spanish and remains in demand, despite being out of print.
Since she arrived at Cal State Fullerton in 1977, the professor
has garnered millions of dollars in grants for research — more
than $3.4 million in the past decade alone — particularly
Research 1 grants from the National Institutes of Health.
Usually awarded to institutions that emphasize research over
teaching, such grants are more difficult to obtain within
the California State University, where teaching is the primary
Professor Linder’s research is in the structure, function,
regulation and gene expression of proteins associated with
transport and storage of iron and copper in the body. She
and her student research team also examine the biochemistry
of cancer and inflammation in relation to copper and iron
The National Science Foundation and National Institutes of
Health have sponsored nearly half of her research efforts,
including an ongoing study of copper transport in lactation,
supported with a grant of $1.4 million, and studies on iron
absorption in the intestines, supported by a $640,000 grant.
“This Wang Award is fantastic. I feel so very honored, proud and pleased,” Linder
“I told my family right away. They’re very pleased, and my colleagues
in Natural Sciences and Mathematics are quite congratulatory. This is good
for me, and it’s also good for the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department,
and it’s good for NSM,” she said.
Linder said she tries to teach her students a perspective
as well as biochemistry. “I try to teach by making
things relevant to people’s lives,” she
said, then after a moment, added, “of course, I guess
that’s pretty easy, since I’m a biochemist and
that is the chemistry of life.
“But,” she said, emphasizing the last part of her statement, “particularly
at the graduate level, I teach them to think critically and, especially, to
think for themselves.”
The teaching doesn’t stop with her, though, she said. “My
students are constantly teaching me. I’m always being
shown new ways to look at things, how to deliver knowledge.
Many of my students are still good friends, and they’re
all over the world. We still learn from each other.”
Besides the prestige and honor, Wang Award honorees also
receive a cash award of $20,000. When asked what she will
do with the money, Linder stayed true to form, responding
immediately: Use it to support more research. Research is
expensive, and there are other aspects I would like to explore.”
Linder earned her doctorate in biochemistry from Harvard
University, and completed postdoctoral research there and
at MIT, where she became an associate professor of chemistry.
Maria Linder, Chemistry and Biochemistry, 657-278-3621
Russ Hudson, Public Affairs, 657-278-4007 or email@example.com
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