The GMGI Science Hour

Born out of the stay-at-home order implemented during the COVID-19 outbreak in spring 2020, the GMGI Science Hour gives GMGI the unique opportunity to bring world-class and innovative science safely to the community at home. Scientists from the GMGI network and beyond graciously share their time and expertise with audiences through captivating, hour-long virtual lectures and discussions.

Upcoming Science Hours

The GMGI Science Hour is back in 2021 with a stellar lineup of speakers ready to bring timely, engaging science to you at home.

Please see below for details and registration information on our upcoming talks, and reach out to with any questions.

February 11, 2021

Dr.  William Fenical

Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Science, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Marine Microbial Drug Discovery: Genomes Provide Bioinformatic Access to the Structures of Bioactive Molecules

More Details and Registration

William Fenical (Bill) received his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry, and then joined the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), UC-San Diego, in 1973. Bill is currently Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Science, and Founding Director of SIO’s Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine. Bill’s research interests have focused on the field of marine natural products chemistry. For the past 25+ years his interests have been to develop marine microbial resources for the utilization of marine microorganisms as a source for new drug discovery. His efforts have resulted in the advancement of two drugs, currently in late phase III human trials for the treatment of glioblastoma brain and non-small cell lung cancers.  He has discovered several potent new antibiotics and has a current research effort to discover marine microbial drugs for the control of COVID-19. Bill has co-authored more than 490 papers in this field and has served on the advisory boards of 8 major journals.

Bill has received numerous awards, among them the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California, Riverside, the Paul Scheuer Award in Marine Natural Products Chemistry, the Silver Medal Award from the International Society of Chemical Ecology, the National Cancer Institute’s Merit Award, the American Chemical Society’s Ernest Guenther Award for the Study of Natural Products and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Pharmacognosy. In 2008, Bill was elected as a Fellow of the American Association of Science, and in 2015 he was honored as Scientist of the Year by the San Diego Regional American Chemical Society. More recently Bill was nominated as a member of the Sigma Xi Honor Society.

Q&A to be moderated by GMGI Donald G. Comb Science Director Andrea Bodnar.

March 4, 2021

Dr. Shirley Pomponi

Research Professor, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University

NEEMO 23: Simulating Space Exploration in a Real-life Undersea Environment

More Details and Registration

Shirley Pomponi is a Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University-Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the former Executive Director of the NOAA/OAR Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology. She received her Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Miami.  Shirley is an ocean explorer and marine biotechnologist.  Her research focuses on marine biotechnology and sponge systematics, cell and molecular biology.  She is particularly interested in the development of sponge cell models to address questions related to climate change, developmental biology, and the production of chemicals with human health applications.   She served on the President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration, was vice chair of the National Academy committee on Exploration of the Seas, and co-chaired the National Academy studies on ocean science priorities for the next decade, “Sea Change: 2015 – 2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences” and “Biological Collections: Their Past, Present, and Future Contributions and Options for Sustaining Them”.  She has led numerous research expeditions worldwide. Conducting a mission in the Aquarius underwater habitat has been on Shirley’s bucket list for 25 years. As an advocate of space exploration (and an astronaut groupie), conducting a NASA mission in Aquarius was a career highlight!

The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations – or NEEMO – is a NASA analog mission that sends groups of astronauts, engineers, and scientists to live in the Aquarius underwater laboratory to prepare for space exploration. The aquanauts evaluate scenarios for using science instruments in the International Space Station and on the lunar surface and conduct physiological and psychological research related to long duration space travel. Dr. Pomponi will share her experiences as a member of the international crew who spent 9 days living and working in Aquarius in June 2019.

April 29, 2021

Dr. Mandë Holford

Associate Professor, Hunter College, The American Museum of Natural History, CUNY Graduate Center

Venom Attacks Cancer

More Details and Registration

Dr. Mandë Holford is an Associate Professor in Chemistry at Hunter College and CUNY-Graduate Center, with scientific appointments at The American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine. Her research, from mollusks to medicine, combines -omic technologies with chemical biology to examine venoms and venomous animals as agents of change and innovation in evolution and in manipulating cellular physiology in pain and cancer. She is active in science education, advancing the public understanding of science, and science diplomacy. She co-founded Killer Snails, LLC, an award winning EdTech learning games company that uses extreme creatures, like venomous marine snails, as a conduit to advance scientific learning in K-12 classrooms. Her honors include being named: a 2020 Sustainability Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, Breakthrough Women in Science by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NPR’s Science Friday, a Wings WorldQuest Women of Discovery Fellow, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, an NSF CAREER awardee, and Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. Her PhD is from The Rockefeller University.

Q&A to be moderated by GMGI Donald G. Comb Science Director Andrea Bodnar.

Past Science Hours

If you’d like to be kept up to date regarding future Science Hour speakers and events, please reach out to Ashley Destino at

The GMGI Science Hour: OceanX and the Future of Ocean Science
The GMGI Science Hour: Sea Urchins and the Secret to a Long and Healthy Life
The GMGI Science Hour: From a Laboratory “C-” to Stockholm – My Improbable Path to the Nobel Prize
The GMGI Science Hour: COVID-19 – Learning from Patients
The GMGI Science Hour: GFP – Lighting Up Life
The GMGI Science Hour: Using Advanced Technologies to Explore the Underwater Behavior of Humpback Whales
The GMGI Science Hour: Genomics as a Tool for Improving Fisheries Management and Marine Conservation
The GMGI Science Hour: Outbreak Response in the Genomic Age