May 2021 dmvCAPs Connections

A Quarterly Newsletter From The Greater Washington DC Area APS 

We are excited to bring you our May 2021 newsletter, an opportunity to connect and engage our valued members. In this Issue:

President’s Welcome
Interview with a Physiologist Series
Meet the Executive Committee
Annual Meeting Updates
Highlight Your Science

President’s Welcome

Fellow Physiologist,

Welcome to Spring! I hope that this Connections finds many of you already fully vaccinated or close to your first and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. What an incredible process it has been to watch scientists and industries develop, test, and manufacture a vaccine under incredibly trying circumstances. While we might still be facing significant efforts to fully overcoming this pandemic, it feels like the momentum has shifted in our favor for the first time since March of 2020.

In this quarter’s Connections we are thrilled to bring to you an interview with Dr. Elizabeth Murphy, PhD, Principal Investigator NHLBI as our feature Meet the Physiologist. One of my favorite parts of this interview is Dr. Murphy recalling an early career decision to take a leap of faith towards a new research direction that propelled her career into unexpected directions. Trainees take note! Be sure to check out her entire interview by following the link below to our chapter website. If you have a physiologist you would like to recommend for our Meet the Physiologist feature, be sure to use our new suggestions tool at the bottom. 

You will also find an opportunity to take a survey regarding our next potential in-person meeting in the Spring of 2022. We remain hopeful that we are progressing towards a new normal that will allow us to once again resume in-person gatherings and we want to understand your preferences and comfort so that we can plan the safest and best program possible. Please participate in this survey so that we can make the most informed decision possible going forward. 

On behalf of the executive board, I want to wish everyone continued health and safety. As we head into the Summer months, we hope everyone has an opportunity to spend more time outside and take a break from screens and virtual meetings. 

All the best

Matthew Barberio, PhD
Assistant Professor
George Washington University
Washington, DC

Interview with A Physiologist

A Rapid Fire Q & A with Dr. Elizabeth Murphy, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
National Institutes of Health


What inspired you to become a scientist or physiologist?
I have always enjoyed science. I always found it fun to try and solve puzzles and figure out how things work. I grew up in a small town so there were no scientist role models, but when I went to college I was able to work in a research lab my Senior year and I loved it.  

Most influential scientist(s) in your career?
I’ve been lucky to have several wonderful mentors.  As a senior in college, I did a project in Howard Rasmussen’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania.  Howard was very supportive and encouraged me to apply to Ph.D. programs.  Mel Lieberman, my postdoc mentor was wonderful.  He had a love of science and he and the entire Physiology Department at Duke University were encouraging and nurtured my development as a scientist.  I then went to NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Science), a branch of NIH and worked with Bob London, who was very supportive and encouraging. 

Favorite science-related TV show, movie, book, podcast series? (fictional or factual)?
I have a number of favorite science-related books.  It is hard to pick; so I’ll list a few. 

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee

What is something surprising you’ve learned (not necessarily science related) that has proven helpful in your career?
The importance of writing.  As an early student I did not appreciate how important it is to develop skills in writing and communicating.

How do you measure success in your career?
Success can take many forms.  Success can be solving an important problem or puzzle in science.  Seeing a student or postdoc develop as a scientist is also very fulfilling and a measure of success.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring physiologists?
Enjoy what you do!  Don’t be afraid to take risk.

The question we didn’t ask, but should have?
Am I happy with my career choice?  Would I do again?  The answer is an emphatic YES.  I can’t imagine a more fulfilling job.  I am constantly learning something new. I get to go to work and try and solve puzzles that hopefully will provide some small benefit to human health. 

Your Current Position:

What aspects of working at NIH do you like most and least?
The NIH has great people and facilities making it a great place to do research. What do I like the least?  My commute to and from work.

Most valuable quality in a colleague?
Curiosity and critical thinking. 

Getting to Where you are now:

Tell us about a time you took a risk and it succeeded?
When I was finishing my postdoc at Duke University, I wrote a R29 NIH grant (an early type of transitional grant) and it was funded.  I then started looking for positions and applied for a position at NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Science), a branch of NIH in North Carolina.  They were forming a new nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) lab and they were looking for a physiologist to work with an NMR physicist and chemist.  I had never done NMR and I had to give up my grant to take the position at NIH, so it was a bit of a risk.  However, it was a great decision.  I learned to operate the NMR and this opened up great new research tools and allowed me to ask new important questions. I had access to some wonderful instrumentation and was able to develop methods to do some interesting physiological studies in perfused hearts in the NMR.

Meet the Executive Committee

Dr. Courtney Petersen, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher, National Institutes of Health
Graduate Student Representative

Courtney has been an active member of dmvCAPS since 2017 and was delighted by her appointment to the Executive Council as the Graduate Student representative in August 2020. Since beginning her position, she has been instrumental in developing our Newsletter, dmvCAPS Connections and our “Interview with a Physiologist” series. Recently, Courtney successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled: Store Operated Calcium (Ca2+) Entry is an essential regulator of cardiac physiology and has begun her postdoctoral training with the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) with Dr. Elizabeth Murphy in Bethesda, MD. At NHLBI, she plans to continue her work in cardiac physiology and broaden her understanding of mitochondrial calcium dynamics during ischemia/reperfusion injury. Away from the bench, Courtney is an avid snowboarder and weightlifter that enjoys reading and painting in her down time.

2022 Annual Meeting Updates

To facilitate planning for our Annual Meeting next spring, we would appreciate if you could take the brief (3 question) survey below. 

Highlight Your Science

Want to highlight your recent work in our next issue of dmvCAPS Connections? Do you have a scientist that you would like to be featured in our “Interview With A Physiologist” Series? Feel free to reach out to us at 

We are aware that some of you may have received an email asking for donations to Veterans in Hospice Care and signed by the president of dmvCAPS. This email was sent from an email account. Please know that we would never solicit donations directly from you in an email and would never ask for donations to support causes outside of The Greater Washington Area American Physiological Society (dmvCAPS) mission. All donations and transactions are handled through our secured website and secured PayPal account and emails from us originate from our chapter Gmail account; never click on a link if you are unsure of the origin. We are unsure how this Email Spam started and we are sorry if it has bothered you; we are working on taking care of this issue