Daniel Emerson Khost
Graduate Student, The Larracuente Lab
What are you currently researching?
I work on satellite DNA, which is a type of DNA that is non-coding, highly repetitive, and makes up a large fraction of the genome but is nevertheless still somewhat mysterious. Part of my work uses bioinformatic approaches to analyze the structure and evolution of satellite DNA loci, which have traditionally been very hard to sequence and assemble. I also take a molecular approach and look at their transcriptional activity to determine what sort of cellular function they serve.
What was it that sparked your interest in Biology?
I was a late-bloomer and up until my second year as an undergrad, I was a theater major and never liked science! Then I took an introductory biology course with a great professor, which really changed my perspective and made me realize that science is not just a collection of facts to be memorized. I started doing research with that professor and found I enjoyed it, so I stuck with it!
How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?
I and a group of like-minded geeks have started a board gaming group, which is lots of fun! We have a wide selection of games now and we've recruited quite a few people, many of whom never knew they had an interest in board games. Come join us! Apart from that, I like art and photography, and going on long wiki walks about random topics (ask me about U-boats!).
What is your favorite piece of lab equipment?
As most of my work is computational, I'd probably say the coffee machine. It does espresso! More seriously, I like our hand-me-down water bath shaker. It is neatly designed and has this cool old-time science aesthetic.
What's the most important thing that you've learned working here and/or studying biology?
The importance of persevering and not letting setbacks affect me too much as most of the time experiments aren't going to work and it will probably be a real slog fixing them! It has made me appreciate all the difficult, behind-the-scenes work that you don't see reported in the headlines that goes into any sort of scientific finding.