I began studying how cells control the quality of the messenger RNA they produce in the laboratory of Dr. Rachel Green. We set out to find novel factors associated with the decay of translationally problematic mRNAs and performed genetic screens in collaboration with Dr. Grant Brown’s lab at the University of Toronto. We identified a key new protein that enzymatically cleaves problematic mRNAs at stalled ribosomes. This finding expands our knowledge of how cells respond to errors in transcription and RNA damage.
Questions & Answers
Why did you choose Johns Hopkins for your work?
I chose Johns Hopkins to earn my PhD because of the collaborative environment the institution promotes. Professors have an open door policy and without such, I would have not been able to brainstorm and come up with the experiments that led to the main discovery of my PhD.
What does receiving this award mean to you personally and professionally? Do you have any connection with the particular award you received?
Receiving this recognition is a great honor personally and professionally. Personally, I remember attending Young Investigator’s Day in my early years at Johns Hopkins and being inspired by my colleagues’ outstanding achievements. Now, being a part of that group is an incredible feeling. Professionally, to be recognized in memory of Dr. Paul Talalay who was not only an extremely successful researcher, but also truly valued young scientists and training is inspiring. I hope to be the type of scientist and mentor Dr. Talalay was at Johns Hopkins.
What contributed to your project's success? (Special skills, interests, opportunities, guidance, etc.)
The major contributor to my project’s success was learning from others. My PI, Rachel Green, pushed me to attend conferences, take courses, and collaborate with people outside of our field. Then I brought what I learned back to our lab and this really expanded the limit on what we could achieve.
What thoughts do you have about Young Investigators' Day itself, as a celebration of the roles student and fellows play in research at Hopkins?
I am honored to be a part of this wonderful day. It was inspirational to me as a young scientist to see what my colleagues could accomplish and I hope this day continues throughout years to come.
What has been your best/most memorable experience while at Hopkins?
My most memorable experience at Johns Hopkins is not exactly one experience, but the people that I have met along the way and the experiences I have had with all of them. In particular, the students in my cohort are talented, kind-hearted, wonderful people that have helped me get where I am now and I know they will continue to help me in my future career and life.
What are your plans over the next year or so? Graduating, looking for faculty positions, etc?
Over the next six months or so I will be joining Dr. Danesh Moazed’s lab in the Cell Biology Department at Harvard Medical School as a postdoctoral fellow. I am excited to continue my research on the central dogma and very happy to be joining such a great lab.
Tell me something interesting about yourself that makes you unique. Do you have any special hobbies, interests or life experiences?
One of my favorite hobbies is playing intramural sports. Specifically, I play an Irish field sport called camogie. The Irish claim it is the original field sport, although I have not fact checked that claim. Camogie is an extremely fun, intense sport that helps me take my mind off failed experiments for a little while.