Graduate Student, The Ghaemmaghami Lab
You work in a laboratory. What are you currently researching?
I am currently studying prion diseases, which are severe and incurable neurodegenerative disorders. Some of the work I do involves anti-prion compounds that have shown success in combating the disease. While these compounds have great potential in the clinical setting, next to nothing is known about their mechanism of action within cells. Several of these compounds have been identified as manipulators of autophagy, a major cellular degradation pathway. So, one of my projects uses these compounds to investigate the role of autophagy in prion diseases. It is my hope that this will lead to discovering new therapies for the disease.
What advice would you give to prospective students looking to study in our department?
You have to find a lab that is going to fit you as a student. There are a lot of good professors here at the U of R and each lab has a unique feel to it. The goal is to find a lab where you are captivated by the research and encouraged by the progress you make. That might be all you need. However, I would advise prospective students to also consider the environment of the lab, the department, and the school as a whole. You want a lab where you will enjoy working with the other students. You want a school where you can go to other labs and ask for help with protocols that are outside of your expertise. You want a lively campus where you will enjoy coming to work every day. Lastly, you want to feel comfortable where you work because you will be living there for the next major chapter of your life. The U of R has it all - a lively campus and great camaraderie within the department. All you have to find is what fits you.
What do you enjoy most about working here at the U of R?
The most enjoyable part of working at the U of R is definitely the people. When I interviewed here, I felt the vitality and warmth within the department. Everyone gets along and genuinely enjoys each other’s company. Not only is everyone pleasant and energetic, they are kind, helpful, and generous. They are willing to sit down with one another and talk through any problems with experiments or help brainstorm solutions. The people make this a wonderful environment to learn and grow as a scientist.
How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?
There are always a lot of things to do in Rochester, so I’ve tried a lot of different ways of unwinding. My favorite way is to drive out to either Letchworth State Park or Niagara Falls and spend the evening watching the waterfalls and enjoying nature. Another great way to unwind is by attending a boardgame night that a few of the biology graduate students host. I haven’t gone in a while, but it is a ton of fun when I do go.
What is one thing about yourself that you’d like more people to know?
I would like people to know that I have a diverse set of interests. For one, I am actually pretty outdoorsy. I love camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, and backpacking. On the other hand, I love doing indoor activities, too, such as board games, playing cards, reading, watching movies, and sleeping. I also like going bowling, playing golf, and listening to symphony orchestras. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time in the day to do all of these things, but I like to take advantage of any free time to do something fun with a friend.