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Elinne Becket, a CSUSM biology professor, was one of 10 winners of the Life Science Catalyst Awards. Photo courtesy of CSUSM
Elinne Becket, a CSUSM biology professor, was one of 10 winners of the Life Science Catalyst Awards. Photo courtesy of CSUSM
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CSUSM biology professor named up-and-coming scientist

SAN MARCOS — Cal State San Marcos biology professor Elinne Becket has been spotlighted by a state organization recognizing up-and-coming professionals in the life science industry.

Becket is one of 10 winners of the sixth annual Life Science Catalyst Awards from Biocom California, an association representing the California life science industry. The awards “celebrate the accomplished and up-and-coming academics, entrepreneurs, investors, corporate leaders and business advisers who are making their mark on the California life science industry before reaching their 40th birthday.”

Becket was chosen from a pool of nominees representing all facets of the life science industry, including pharma, diagnostics, venture funding, industrial biotech and digital health. The nominees were vetted by a statewide committee that considered factors including innovation, leadership and vision.

The award winners will be highlighted on the cover of Biocom California’s online magazine LifeLines and celebrated at Biocom California’s annual Celebration of Life gala in San Diego on Nov. 18.

Becket is in her fourth year as an assistant professor at CSUSM. Her research work focuses on microbial genomics, specifically how urban waste affects coastal ecosystems and exacerbates the effects of climate change.

She returned to academia in 2018 after four years in the biotechnology industry because she missed working with students. Through her lab, she has mentored 25 research students, who have given 35 research presentations at regional and international conferences.

“Winning the Catalyst Award is such an honor, but mostly it validates the importance of training a diverse next generation of achievers in the life science industry,” Becket said.

Last spring, Becket was awarded a three-year, $447,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study antibiotic resistant bacteria in urban water runoff along the Pacific coast. This month, she was among 78 California State University faculty who received COVID-19 Research Recovery Microgrant Program awards from the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology.

Becket organized a workshop in February 2020 to assemble the genomes of spacecraft-associated microbes at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Through this initiative, seven CSUSM undergraduate students wrote a publication with collaborators from JPL, NASA Ames Research Center and undergrads from other institutions.

She also co-organized two international microbial genomics conferences, which bring together people from around the world at all career stages. She’s a founding member of the Climate Change Faculty Working Group at CSUSM and the university’s faculty director of innovation, which includes developing, coordinating and promoting activities within the CSUSM Innovation Hub that serves students, faculty and industry.

Becket earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a doctorate in molecular biology, both from UCLA. She was a postdoctoral scholar at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Elinne Becket is an activist in our life sciences community, leveraging her talent as an instructor, a researcher and a leader to convince her many industry contacts that underrepresented and/or first-generation college students are worth the investment it takes to truly welcome them to the thriving Southern California life sciences industry,” said Jackie Trischman, interim dean of CSUSM’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.