The most important task as a first-year graduate student is finding the thesis lab. Why would you choose our lab for your graduate training?
1) The question.
You need to be interested in the questions our lab is asking. We are interested in the fundamental question of how cell type-specific gene expression and cell fate are regulated during spermatogenesis. Our lab will be a good fit if you are broadly interested in cell fate, epigenetics, and reproduction.
Please check out the research page and past papers.
As a student, the training you receive to be an independent scientist is as important as the research question. In our group:
- You will learn the logic and method of genetics. We are a developmental genetics lab. We will identify new genes through traditional genetic screens and by developing new screen systems in vivo. We will perturb protein functions by genetic knock outs, knock-ins as well as inducible degradations. Genetics will provide a foundation of logic. By removing and adding back genes, you will learn how to judge what types of data are required to support a claim.
- You will learn biological principles and approaches to study them in different contexts. Our lab will use both flies and mice as models. You will likely choose one organism as a primary model. However, exposure to different systems will help you develop a broader understanding of biology. How did gene regulation evolve differently between flies and mice? What additional layers of regulation are needed in a mammalian genome that is 20 times the size of the fly genome? On the other hand, many genes involved in spermatogenesis are conserved in flies and mice. Then, what are the core processes required for the reproduction?
- You will become proficient at experimental and computational approaches. Many current chromatin experiments involve high-throughput sequencing with billions of short reads. I expect and will help my students to do basic analyses of these sequencing data using command line, R, etc. Biology is increasingly becoming a 'data science.' I hope that experience in our group will prepare students to understand, evaluate, and handle large datasets, even when new methods appear in the future.
- In the end, I want students trained in my lab to be good scientists. Being a critical scientist involves more than becoming proficient in your techniques. You will learn to evaluate evidence and claims critically and effectively communicate your assessments and opinions. These skills will help you to have a fulfilling career in whatever career you choose, be it in academia, industry, or any area you pursue.
I think there is no universally 'better' choice for everyone. It is a matter of preference. If you prefer a faster pace of experiment to results, working with flies or mice may seem too slow for you. On the other hand, if you are interested in the function of proteins in the context of tissue or animals, our lab is a better fit for you than, for example, structural biology or cell biology labs. Professor styles are also different. Being in a new lab, you will have more frequent interactions with me than big labs with many students and postdocs. It is up to you to decide what kind of mentoring style suits you.
The fit will be hard to judge without in-person interactions. So, come rotate with me and find out if our lab will be the right place for you.
Good luck in finding your thesis lab!