Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Ann Marie Craig

  • 2003-Apr-08 – 2003-Apr-10

Ann Marie Craig was born in Ithaca, New York, the second of three children. Her father was a graduate student in business administration at Cornell University, and her mother was a nurse. Both parents came from small towns in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, so when Ann Marie was about three years old the family moved back to Canada, where her father became a professor of business administration at Ottawa University. Ann Marie remembers liking school, particularly her third-grade teacher and a high school science teacher, but she does not claim a from-birth interest in science; that came later, after a flirtation with becoming a teacher or a nun. By the time she entered Queens College as a double major in mathematics and physics, she did know she loved the beauty of internal logic and consistency, which she found most in science. After her first year at Queens she realized that she was in the wrong field, so she began classes in psychology, interested in discovering how the brain works. Next she entered Carleton University with a major in biological psychology, which she soon switched to biochemistry. She spent two of her college summers working for the National Research Council of Canada and one purifying proteins at the University of Western Canada in Ontario. From those summers she gleaned three publications. Her work was mostly molecular neurobiology, cloning DNA, leading her into cancer research. At the time the Canadian university system did not have rotations; students were expected to find themselves a lab. Ann Marie chose David Denhardt's lab at the University of Western Ontario because she wanted to learn DNA cloning and molecular biology and transvection of mammal cells. She did her PhD research on molecular biology of cancer progression and the 2ar/osteopontin protein. After what Craig considers an unusually smooth graduate training, she revived her interest in the molecular basis of learning and memory and accepted a postdoc in Daniel Alkon's lab at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health. Disappointed in the progress of her research, she left Alkon's lab for a postdoc at Gary Banker's lab at the University of Virginia, changing also her research model organism, working on neuronal polarity and the clustering and trafficking of receptors in neurons. Ann Marie began learning molecular biology as an important technique in neuroscience, but recognizing that electrophysiology was key, Craig almost decided to do a third postdoc to learn electrophysiology; instead she decided to accept a position at the University of Illinois and to set up her own lab. Again her interest shifted, this time to synapses, and Washington University in St. Louis offered more scope for pursuing that research, so she accepted an associate professorship there. Her research interests continue to include the molecular mechanisms underlying synapse formation and synaptic plasticity, their regulation and functional importance; she hopes in the future to initiate research on central neuron synapse assembly, modulation, and electrophysiology.

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