As we continue to celebrate the month of Women in American History, we recognize the life and work of La Reine High School graduate and woman of science, Marcella "Marcie" McClure from the Class of 1967.
Marcella (Marcie) McClure was a member of the La Reine class of 1967. She was in the La Reine High School Science Honors Seminar. Through an arrangement at the University of Maryland, she conducted her high school research at the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. She was a member of the Washington Junior Academy of Sciences and won several awards at the tri-state Science Fair held at the University of Maryland.
Marcie attended the University of California, San Diego where she began her studies on RNA viruses in the laboratory of Dr. John Holland. She received a bachelors of science degree in Honors Biology. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at Washington University School of Medicine. Her dissertation was a merger of laboratory work on viruses and the computational analysis of viral genetic information. She found her calling in what is now called Bioinformatics/Computational Biology. Marcie did her Postdoctoral scholar research studying the evolution of retroviruses at the University of California, San Diego. She was the first person to calculate the evolutionary rate of change for retroviruses, including HIV, and she is quoted in The Coming Plague, written by journalist and commentator Laurie Garret. She was among the first wave of biologists who left the experimental laboratory to use computer-based methods to study genetic information of viruses long before the human genome project was initiated.
Prior to obtaining her first faculty position and NIH research grant Marcie was a visiting scholar in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Southern California. Marcie received the prestigious NIH Research Career Development Award as an Assistant Professor. She was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease for over 40 years to conduct research on the computational analysis of RNA sequence information to elucidate the structure, function and evolution of RNA viruses. She has traveled all over the world to lecture about her research and teach Bioinformatics. She had been a faculty member at University of Nevada and Montana State University.
Marcie retired in 2014. She is currently living in Salinas, California. She has two daughters who live nearby and four grandsons in college. Marcie participates in local efforts to safe guard and protect the undocumented farm workers who grow and harvest the food we eat while advocating for just and fair immigration policies. She is also an avid gardener and beach and sand dune hiker.
Marcie credits the science education and research opportunities that La Reine afforded her to her success as a scientist. She is delighted that Bishop McNamara High School will be the home of the La Reine Science and Innovation Center.