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Environmental Factor, December 2012

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Celebrating Halloween in style

By Sheila Yong

Wilder shows tray of barbecue ribs

Wilder shows what’s left, after hungry partygoers devoured his prize-winning barbecue ribs. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Halloween Dragon

Members of the Putney group entertain their colleagues with a traditional dragon dance. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

The F module hallway was abuzz with activity the morning of Oct. 30, as members of the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction (LST) prepared for its Halloween international potluck. The party kicked off promptly at lunch time with a brief pronouncement of “Let’s eat!” from LST Chief John Cidlowski, Ph.D.

Laboratory members from different parts of the U.S. and several countries around the world brought dishes from their hometowns, ranging from Carolina-style barbecue ribs and Brunswick stew, to delicacies from China and India. While enjoying their meals, attendees got to vote for their favorite entree. LST Administrative Specialist Pinkney Wilder prepared the winning dish — succulent Carolina barbecue ribs in a sweet and tangy sauce. Although Wilder’s ribs were voted the best, all of the recipes were delicious.

“The food is outstanding,” exclaimed NIEHS Scientific Director Darryl Zeldin, Ph.D., who was the guest of honor for this year’s festivities.

Dressing the part

Members of each group tapped into their imaginations to create unique costume and pumpkin designs. Zeldin served as judge.

For best costume, Zeldin was torn between the dragon dance costume, from the Calcium Regulation Group led by James Putney, Ph.D.; the 1970s disco dancers, from the Polypeptide Hormone Action Group led by Perry Blackshear, M.D., Ph.D.; and the fisherman and his fish costumes from Cidlowski’s Molecular Endocrinology Group. Ultimately, he pronounced the Cidlowski group the winner.

“Although the outcome might seem fishy to some, since John is the LST chief, no pun intended, my decision was completely objective,” Zeldin maintained.

The NIEHS pumpkin patch

Unlike the dilemma in the best costume contest, deciding the best pumpkin winner was less stressful for Zeldin.

“The Shears pumpkin is definitely the most creative,” Zeldin said, referring to the pumpkin decorated by members of the Inositol Signaling Group headed by Stephen Shears, Ph.D. They started with a standing lamp, added poster tubes, old jeans, and sneakers, and topped it off with a pumpkin head. “Dr. Hello Win,” as the pumpkin was affectionately called, had a huge grin and sported a pair of black-rimmed glasses.

Jeremy Weaver, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Shears group, quipped, “Have you talked to our new postdoc yet?” As everyone looked around for an unfamiliar face, Weaver jokingly pointed to Dr. Win.

Other pumpkins were just as amusing, with the armadillo pumpkin from the Cidlowski group coming in second, and the disco ball pumpkin from the Blackshear group placing third.

Competition aside, it was all good fun. The party concluded with a group photo of smiling faces.

“This is the first time I have seen a lab put together a party of this scale,” Zeldin said. “It is a great team-building idea for other branches to consider, and could be organized as an institute-wide event. It is definitely something to look forward to."

(Sheila Yong, Ph.D., is a visiting fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction.)

Halloween Pumpkin

Meet Dr. Hello Win, the newest member of the Shears group. Actually, he is just the best pumpkin at the party. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Cidlowski as Gorton Fisherman

Cidlowski does a great impression of the Gorton’s fisherman, as he poses with his catch of the day. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Blackshear Halloween Group Shot

Looking groovy in their ‘70s-inspired disco garb, members of the Blackshear group can’t wait to dance the night away under the disco pumpkin. Can you dig it? (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

LST Halloween Group Shot

The LST gang poses in all its gaudy glory, after a fun-filled afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

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