Cell and Molecular Biology at UNH
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Cell and Molecular Biology at UNH


[music] University New Hampshire is a
wonderful place to work and I believe it’s a wonderful place for
students, both undergraduate and graduate, to come to school here. Located in a rural area,
that is just an hour from the White Mountains, half an hour from the ocean and a little
over an hour from Boston. Of the 14 thousand-plus students, about 15 percent of them are
graduate students, and I have to say that in my twenty plus years
of being here I have been really impressed with the
quality, both at the undergraduate and graduate-level. In the areas of molecular, cellular and
biomedical sciences, Our department has a very strong set of research programs. Three of them
particularly relevant to cell biology research. A group of faculty here who are involved
in host microbe interactions. Another group of faculty, about a dozen,
who are participating in areas that we describe as genome enabled biology with a focus on genome evolution and
molecular ecology. A third group, of another dozen or so faculty,
have active research programs in the area of single transduction and the molecular
basis of cell signaling pathways. I’m most interested in animal cancer,
particularly the cellular and molecular biology of cancers in a comparative way I like to use invertebrates that get cancer.
Some things like bivalve mollusks and also humans. We study p53 which is a tumor
suppressor and also a transcription factor that will induce a number of other proteins that then lead to apoptosis in normal
circumstances but in cancer cells, one of their main fortes is to prevent apoptosis.
We are interested in why. The University as a whole has a great philosophy,
I think, which is that they’re equally interested in excellence in
research and excellence in teaching. We like to be able to have students
train other students. And it’s powerful. You can see students be really enthusiastic about passing on
information to their peers. We also have a course called, “Early
Engagement in Biological Research,” Where we bring sophomores
into the lab to learn a variety of techniques. So we actually start them
in the field collecting some samples and then they extract DNA from those
samples in a second module. In the third module, they actually clone the entire genome of those samples that they collected from the field. My experience in the lab has allowed me to have a lot of other opportunities. So I
was able to travel to France under a grant through UNH to study more
about cancer research. UNH has a really great history and provides a great environment for interdisciplinary research. In collaboration with Vaughn Cooper, who
is an evolutionary biologist, and Steve Jones, who is environmental
microbiologist, we developed a place-based study site in the Great Bay Estuary of New Hampshire
to really evaluate how environment is driving the emergence of vibrios in the Great Bay and in particular we’re interested in understanding
the ecology of disease emergence. In very recent years, there’ve been unprecedented
outbreaks of the pathogen that we study in the region and this really is an
unusual situation, but we’re right in the right place at
the right time to provide specific questions about
how the ecology is driving changes in these populations of pathogenic vibrios. Every summer we have several high school
interns who come in and do research directly with me or my graduate students
and they become very involved in the actual research process to the
point where they’ve even earned authorship on papers that were
preparing. The undergraduates also are really integral
members of our research team and they learn very early on how to do research and
how to master techniques and also direct themselves. There’s a lot of collaboration on this
project, so I’m working with three different professors, all who have
different backgrounds, and it’s really helping me to see more
sides of my project. So, I’m working with the computer scientist
to help with some of the sequencing work and to write some new programs for some ideas that
I had to make the whole process easier. We use mass spectometry as major tools. There are two major trajectories in terms
of our research projects. One direction really use mass spectometry as a way to categorize structural information of proteins
and protein complexes and the second direction of
our research projects deals with prompting biology and epigenetic
regulation. Students often have to learn skills
that I have never actually learned myself, I’ve never tried myself,
and that often brings most of the excitement.
The table gets turned, I become student. We all work together in this university and
I find that very special. You can two-year sequencing and one lab
and then you can have microscopy in another lab and you can do your data processing with
another lab that does the bioinformatics part and
there’s also a great program here where all the graduate students attend a
seminar and we are al required to present at a seminar. And through this process we can work
with each other and collaborate with each other. Because of this multi-disciplinary
approach that we have here it will open doors for me in many
aspects in my future. I can either continue on in academia,
pursuing a postdoctoral research position, and teach other students what I have
learned here and I’m still learning here or I can go into industry. The skills are
fully transferable for any kind of position that I would
like to go into. For me what really excites me about UNH is the combination of being an active
researcher who can at the same time educate
undergraduate and graduate students in the conduct of research.
So I’m advancing my field and I’m educating next generation of
scientists.

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