Zhonghe Ke

Graduate Student, The Gorbunova/Seluanov Lab

You work in a laboratory.  What are you currently researching?

I am a 5th year graduate student in the lab of Drs. Seluanov and Gorbunova. Currently, I’m working on the hematopoietic stem cells in the longest-lived rodent, the naked mole rat (maximum lifespan, 32 years). I aim to discover the stem cell capacities that contribute to the extreme longevity of the naked mole rats, and in the long term to reverse age-associated degeneration of stem cells.

What was it that originally sparked your interest in biology?

I was born and grew up in a remote rural area in China.  I had a lot of fun and happy times helping my family to raise domestic animals and birds, herd cattle, fishing, plant crops, trees, flowers, etc.  That was when my curiosity about living things was cultivated. I expressed my strong interest in biology when I first got the biology textbook from my older brother when I was 11 or 12 years old. Since then, biology class is my favorite class all the time.

What do you enjoy most about working here at the U of R?

My research is definitely the most enjoyable thing. I also very much enjoy the research diversity here at the U of R.  There are so many talks every week—in our department or across the street at the Medical Center. I think gaining knowledge from areas beyond my own research can prevent me from thinking too narrowly.

What advice would you give to prospective students looking to study in our department?

Figure out what you are interested in researching and then apply!

How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?

It’s hard for me to summarize what I do in my free time.  I have learned how to cook different foods and often gather friends together to taste and talk.  I have also learned how to appreciate different types of music.  I hang out with friends and go to movies, restaurants, hiking, sometimes football games.  I go to the gym and exercise regularly.  And of course, I most enjoy raising my lovely baby daughter with my lovely wife!