Tara Finegan

Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Bergstralh Lab

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

Broadly, I am interested in how cells behave in the context of tissues and how cells act collectively to build and maintain tissue structures. In the Bergstralh Lab, we’ve found that cells in some tissues break a decades-old rule of cell biology: their shape doesn’t dictate the direction in which they divide. I have been working to understand how and why this rule is being broken.

What was it that originally sparked your interest in biology?

I have always had an interest in the natural world and as a child I loved animals. I am the first person in my family to go to university, so I felt pretty overwhelmed when it came to choosing a subject! I studied physical sciences in my first two years of undergraduate studies, but switched to genetics after conducting summer lab work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge (UK). I fell in love with conducting and designing experiments and working at the bench. I also had some incredibly supportive and inspiring teachers at the Department of Genetics in Cambridge during my studies.

How do you think our biology department stands out in comparison to other universities?

The department here has an extremely friendly and open atmosphere.  I am relatively new to the department, but everyone has made me feel at home straight away. I am really impressed with the quality of the speakers who have visited during the Donut Talk series and I have appreciated that the Department gives postdocs and students the chance to meet and talk with the speakers.

What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned studying biology?

I think that the most important skill I’ve learned is critical and creative thinking. This is also my favorite part of the job! Designing rigorous experiments and critically assessing the results obtained are directly applicable to problem solving in many other aspects of life and work!

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

One of my favorite things to do since I moved to Rochester is walking our puppy in our neighborhood, the South Wedge, and the many parks in the city. Music is also a great passion of mine and playing with other people is a lot of fun.