Rebeccah Lijek

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences; on leave Fall 2021

Rebeccah Lijek is a molecular biologist who investigates how interactions between microorganisms and the immune system can lead to diverse outcomes such as pathogen clearance and protection or chronic inflammation and tissue damage.

Her research examines the sexually transmitted bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis and how it triggers immunopathology in the female genital tract. She welcomes students interested in using molecular biology, cell culture, and mouse models to study the intersection of microbiology, immunology, and women’s health. 

Recent Campus News

This is a detail of a vaccine informational poster by Caitlin Lewis '21.

A class ripped from the headlines

A new class teaches Mount Holyoke students about vaccine development, assessment and implementation — and how to be scientists in the world.

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Rebeccah Lijek

Overworked and overlooked over the holidays

In a New York Times article, Mount Holyoke College assistant professor Rebeccah Lijek describes the pressures faced by junior researchers in academia.

Rebeccah Lijek, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Study reveals cracks in peer review

Study from Mount Holyoke professor reveals that nearly half of junior researchers contribute anonymously to peer review.

Recent Grants

Receieved a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for “Collaborative Research: Developing Biology Undergraduates’ Scientific Literacy and Identity Through Peer Review of Scientific Manuscripts,” under the IUSE (Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources) program. The project is for three years.

Recent Publications

McDowell, G. S., Niziolek, C. A., & Lijek, R. S. (2021). How to bring peer review ghostwriters out of the dark. Molecular Biology of the Cell32(6), 461–466. https://doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E20-10-0642

Mcdowell G, Niziolek CA, & Lijek RS. (2020). Practical changes to reduce ghostwriting in peer review. MetaArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31222/osf.io/ravn2.

McDowell, G.S., Knutsen, J.D., Graham, J.M. [MHC '19], Oelker, S.K. [MHC LITS], and Lijek, R.S. (2019) Co-reviewing and ghostwriting by early-career researchers in the peer review of manuscripts. eLife, 8:e48425.

Recent Honors

Co-led a session "Public preprint review as a tool to empower the next generation of socially-conscious peer reviewers" at the 2021 FeedbackASAP meeting on peer review hosted by ASAPbio, HHMI, DORA, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Gave a seminar "Teaching Peer Review with COVID-19 Preprints" and hosted a roundtable discussion "STEM in the Liberal Arts" at the 2021 American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators.

With Mount Holyoke student co-authors, presented research on Chlamydia pathogenesis and vaccines at the 2021 World Microbe Forum and 2021 Boston Bacterial Meeting, where Lijek chaired a session on Host-Microbe Interactions.

Was invited to join the inaugural Junior Editorial Board of mBio, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

 

Lijek's research was the subject of an editorial in The Scientist by James L. Sherley, Exorcising Ghostwriting from Peer Review. In an invited response, Lijek published the essay Postdocs as Competent Peer Reviewers also in The Scientist. Her editorial summarizes for a lay audience the policy recommendations that she details in her recent academic manuscript, Practical changes to reduce ghostwriting in peer review.