Testimonials for Pioneer Member Elaine Tobin

Simon and Michal Barak – Elaine is not only a pioneering plant scientist, but was also a wonderful mentor. Being a post-doc in her lab was the perfect school for how to be a scientist. She allowed you to fly! And who can forget the annual Chanukah/Christmas party at her home, and lifelong friends made in her lab. Thanks Elaine for everything.

Rachel Green – Elaine taught me so much about how to be a scientist and communicator. She also modelled running a lab with the right mixture of support and independence for her researchers. And just as important as the science, she cared about the members of her lab. How many PIs would offer to look after small babies in her office if we had childcare issues? At one point she had two tiny ones parked in their strollers near her desk while we got on with our experiments. Nothing fazed her. Elaine is a wonderful role model for women in science.

Anne Hirsch and Stefan Kirchanski  – I strongly support my former colleague at UCLA, Elaine Tobin, to be included among the ASPB Pioneers. When I first visited UCLA on a job interview, Elaine was one of the few women in the Biology department. She also raised a family — not something seen very often in Plant Biology departments at that time. She and her late husband Philip Thornber were my mentors when I first arrived at UCLA, and they were very encouraging and helped me learn the “ropes”. My husband, Stefan Kirchanski, and I were invited to many, many dinners and get-togethers at the Tobin-Thornber house on Veteran Avenue, where we always felt welcome. We were sorry to see her retire and leave California.

George Karlin-Neumann – Elaine taught me that you can be both passionate about your science and still always be there for your family. I remember fondly being in discussions with her in her office and if it was towards the end of the day, she would often get a call from one of her boys probably just home from school. Without skipping a beat, she addressed them with such love and presence knowing that our conversation was fluid and could entertain her brief shift in attention. One of her other profound lessons (to me, anyhow) is that we do not “find time” to do things, we “make time”. If ever the words start to slip from my lips (or even make an appearance in my cortex), I immediately remember her and yield to the truth. A final insight that she imparted to me is that we are never free of assumptions and that the responsibility of a scientist is to uncover the assumptions we carry with us and to have the courage to challenge them and let go of those that do not bear up under scrutiny. Thank you, Elaine for being a caring and wise mentor.

Noelle L’Etoile – Dr Elaine Tobin was my first female faculty role model who did awesome science, mentored well and loved her kids well. As a BioChem undergrad and then Microbiology and Immunology grad student at UCLA, I didn’t have very many formal interactions beyond talking with her about science and reading her trainee’s posters in the halls, but me and my cohort looked up to her and held her as our guiding star. We are now tenured female faculty members with our own families and gateful to Elaine for being our Pioneer.

Chentao Lin – Elaine Tobin’s pioneer work was on plant photoresponses and the circadian clock

Sabeeha Merchant – Elaine was a wonderful mentor to me when I came to UCLA as a young faculty member.

Patricia Okubara – Elaine was my graduate advisor at UCLA from 1985-1992, a very exciting time for both me and the lab’s research in general. During this time, Elaine demonstrated the importance of communication, understanding, and scientific independence. Perhaps the most important moment in my Ph.D. career was when I felt at a crossroads and in need of her opinion. Her response was “I don’t know what you should do—it’s your project!” What a revelation. Elaine is a gifted person and scientist who demonstrated that it was possible to be a world-class researcher, a mentor and a mother. Thanks for the chance to learn and grow in your laboratory, Elaine.