Distinguished Professor Marlene Belfort does it
all! She is the director of the Division of
Genetics Disorders at the Wadsworth Center of the
New York State Department of Health in Albany, a
professor of molecular genetics at the School of
Public Health here at the University at Albany and
an amazing woman with many prestigious awards and
honors under her belt. Her most recent is an
honorary degree from the Hebrew University in June.
Professor Belfort's day usually starts off around
7 a.m. when she works from home. This is where she
does most of her writing of papers for publications
on research, for grants, recommendations, and also
critiques for colleagues. She comes into her office
by mid-morning where she has to deal with many
different administrative duties, which typically
come along with the role of director of the
division. Professor Belfort also attends lab
meetings, scientific discussions, faculty meetings,
and seminars where she also meets with the speakers.
Although this is a day full of all her duties, she
feels there is no "typical" day.
On the day I spent with her, I got to sit in on
one of the lab meetings that she attends on a
regular basis. It gives her an opportunity to meet
with the students who work in her labs, to ask
questions, and give suggestions on their experiments.
This is also where she meets other colleagues, for
example a professor who is here on sabbatical, and who attends these
meetings to add to his knowledge of molecular biology.
Her lab is a very international. Working in the
lab are students, post-docs, and technicians from
all over the world, including Professor Belfort who
grew up in South Africa. Growing up, she loved
biology. She also had a very big interest in art.
She considered becoming a doctor; or a career as a
scientific illustrator where she could use both her
interests, but when she came to this country she had
to gravitate toward one or the other and she is very
pleased with how things worked out.
One of her favorite parts of her job are the
discoveries--she says that it's like falling in
love. She also enjoys mentoring others, and talking
and interacting with her colleagues. "I feel very
honored to be a distinguished professor, and
fortunate to get accolades for doing what I love to
do so much."