Catherina Somai
Written and Photos by
Catherina Somai, Freshman
A Day in the Life of Distinguished Professor Marlene Belfort  
Marlene Belfort

Marlene Belfort

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.

Marlene's labOn 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.

Marlene with colleagueHer 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 scientific 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."


Related Links:
School of Public Health >>
Wadsworth Center, Division of Genetics Disorders >>

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