Horwitz Prize: Dr. Emmons and the Worm


The Einstein community gathered in the Mary and Karl Robbins Auditorium on February 29 for the 10th annual Marshall S. Horwitz Faculty Prize memorial lecture, given this year by prize recipient Scott W. Emmons, Ph.D., a professor of genetics and in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience, and the Siegfried Ullmann Chair in Molecular Genetics. He was honored for his innovative work in connectomics, which describes how nervous system synapses are connected.

Dr. Emmons’ lecture described his effort, over the past three decades, to map the Caenorhabditis elegans worm’s neural connections. He discovered in the early 2000s that the male worm will abandon a meal to seek mates. His findings served as a launch pad for investigations into male behavior, including copulation. In 2012, he and his team submitted a map of the wiring for the nervous system governing mating behavior in the adult male worm for publication in the journal Science. The manuscript was not only accepted but received the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Newcomb Cleveland Prize for the most outstanding research article in Science that year.