2024 Alumni Awards Profiles

Lisa Eshun-Wilson ’14Lisa Eshun-Wilson ’14

Reunion: 10th
Residence: La Jolla, California
Grinnell major: Biological chemistry
Other degrees: Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from University of California, Berkley (2019)
Profession: Scientist

3 ways Lisa embodies Grinnell College’s mission of lifetime learning and service

  1. As a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Researcher in Structural Biology at the Scripps Research Institute, Lisa is one of the few Black female scientists in the field of single particle cryo-electron microscopy, which is used determine the structure of biologically important proteins. In her recent work, she has applied cryo-EM image analysis and neural networking algorithms to study the role of mitochondrial dynamics in aging.
  2. Lisa strives to create an inclusive social climate for underrepresented minority scholars. She started inclusiveScripps to raise awareness about issues that disproportionately affect underrepresented trainees and to begin an office hour mentoring program to give postdoctoral scholars the opportunity to foster productive mentee-mentor relationships or future collaborations with faculty who identify as underrepresented minorities or are active allies.
  3. While earning her Ph.D., Lisa and a collaborator used cryo-electron microscopy to achieve a huge first step toward developing a structure-based vaccine for the hepatitis C virus.

Something you probably didn’t know about Lisa

Lisa has been invited to speak at academic and professional conferences both nationally and worldwide, including at Grinnell College’s Department of Biology Seminar Series.

A collage of photos featuring Lisa Eshun-Wilson ’14

Bonus Lisa Fun Facts

  • Lisa was selected for a Grinnell College 2023 Joseph F. Wall ’41 Alumni Service Award for the inclusiveScripps project’s commitment to effecting positive social change.
  • As a doctoral student, she established the student-led iMCB – inclusive Molecular and Cell Biology, which included an annual conference that raised awareness about issues that disproportionately affect underrepresented minority students, such as imposter syndrome and stereotype threat.
  • Lisa’s research work has been published in the Science Translational Medicine, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A quote about Lisa

“Throughout the past 14 years of knowing Lisa, she has been exceptional in her dedication to forwarding science and fostering an inclusive environment for all. It goes without saying that the whole scientific community will benefit from a more diverse workforce because people of different experiences are able to create more innovation together, yet it will still continue to be a problem until people like Lisa take on the burden of championing DEI within their workplace. It takes courage, time, and resources to do this, and she does this with grace on top of her lab work.”

Pauline Zheng ’14

Read more 2024 Alumni Award Recipient profiles.