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  • job: Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
  • lab: Fourth floor, Biochemistry Building Addition
  • current research: The biochemistry of microbes

What’s the research question on your mind right now? How do bacterial cells make the switch from individual behavior to collective, multicellular behavior?

Who works in your lab? One postdoctoral fellow, four graduate students, five undergraduate students, one incoming undergraduate student and a high school student. This summer we also had a first grade teacher working in the lab and 10 undergrads working on the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. It’s a busy place right now.

Describe a typical day in the lab. Actually, I haven’t done an experiment in months, so I can’t say with 100 percent certainty. But everyone is working on a different project, so there are very few activities that are routine, with the exception of growing bacteria and washing glassware.

What’s the view from the window? My office faces the 1956 wing of Biochemistry. The lab has a terrific view of Elmer, the old elm tree.

What’s playing on the radio? Right now, “Rainbows,” by Radiohead. In the lab, the preference seems to be to work without music. I respect that decision—it promotes interaction and conversation.

What’s the most unique feature of your lab or office? I had blackboards installed in my office. Several of my colleagues think this represents unusual behavior.

If you had to evacuate, what would you grab first? Well, if my kids were in the office, which they often are on Saturdays, I would grab them first.

Clean desk or messy desk? A clean desk. I can’t work efficiently in a messy environment.

Any personal items in the lab? Nail polish. It comes in very handy for all sorts of things (microscopy, annealing, gluing, etc.).

Where do you get your best work done? In my office very early in the morning.

Why did you go into research as a career? Because science is a blast.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned by doing research? That I can get paid for doing this job. It still amazes me…