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In Memoriam: Anna Owensby (1990 – 2016)



In Memoriam:
Anna Owensby (1990 – 2016)

Anna Owensby, a fourth-year chemistry student in The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) Graduate Program, passed away unexpectedly on April 14.

“We deeply mourn Anna’s sudden passing,” said Jamie Williamson, TSRI’s dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies. “She was extremely bright and truly passionate about science. Our sympathies go out to her family, close friends and colleagues. We are all struggling to come to terms with what has happened, and we are doing our best to come together to generate a support network for those most affected.”

Anna Owensby was born on March 1, 1990, in Greenville, South Carolina. Originally a Cello Performance major at the premier Cleveland Institute of Music conservatory, Owensby’s journey with chemistry began when she took a general education chemistry course at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). She quickly fell in love with the subject of chemistry and transferred to CWRU, where she excelled in the sciences. Her impressive scholastic achievements and research accomplishments in the Gregory Tochtrop laboratory were recognized by the Hippolyte Gruener Award, the Charles F. Mabery Prize and the Ignacio Ocasio Freshman Chemistry Achievement Award. She was also the recipient of the Ira and Ruth Bressler Prize for outstanding achievement in Judaic Studies. Anna graduated magna cum laude from CWRU with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.

Owensby began her graduate studies in the summer of 2012 on TSRI’s California campus. She was an exceptionally talented biochemist, dedicated member of the Dennis Wolan laboratory and recipient of the TSRI Immunology and Microbial Sciences predoctoral fellowship. Her thesis project focused on the design and execution of in vitro activity assays of a transmembrane protease universally required by bacteria for survival. Her research accomplishments have culminated in a high-throughput screening effort currently being executed at the Scripps Florida Molecular Screening Center to identify and develop inhibitors of her protease target as a new class of antibacterial compounds.

Owensby will be best remembered by her co-workers and peers for her infectious laughter, depth of scientific knowledge, ready availability to help others in experimental design and troubleshooting, uncanny ability to scour the internet for information and passion in mentoring high school students and summer interns as part of the TSRI Graduate School’s Outreach Program.

Owensby was a passionate scientist, loyal friend, and devoted mom to her corgie pup, Curie.

She is survived by her mother, Victoria Gould Owensby of Roanoke, Virginia; brother, Adam Owensby of Charleston, South Carolina; a loving family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins; and many friends and colleagues in the TSRI community and greater San Diego area.

A TSRI memorial service is scheduled for Monday, May 2.

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Chemistry student Anna Owensby with her dog, Curie.