Visitor of the Week: Taizina Momtareen

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Meet Taizina Momtareen of West Virginia University. The PhD student in Jen Gallagher’s lab is currently participating in her inaugural meeting at CSHL – Telomeres & Telomerase – where she presented a poster entitled “Investigation of helicases, exonucleases and TERRA non-coding RNAs in telomere maintenance”. 

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am investigating the function of the Y’-Help1 helicases expressed from the subtelomeres. I am interested in seeing if they share functional homology with Sgs1, and if they interact with TERRA RNAs to promote recombination.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
In my first semester, I came across a few papers by Virginia Zakian and Raymund J. Wellinger that sparked my interest in the field of yeast telomere biology.

How did your scientific journey begin?
I was always interested in science. From making a 3D solar system to learning about the technologies used to solve famous forensics cases, I have loved every science assignment that I worked on. Thus, my interest in science developed from a very young age. Moreover, my biology teachers and professors and their passion for science inspired me to pursue a career in research.

Was there something specific about Telomeres & Telomerase meeting that drew you to attend?
The opportunity to meet and learn from the people whose ideas are revolutionizing the field of telomere research.

What is your key takeaway from the meeting? 
Many dynamic new models are challenging the current concepts on when and how telomerase works.

What did you pick up or learn from the meeting that you plan to apply to your work?  
I attended the Meet the Speakers luncheon where I met and spoke with Dr. Vicki Lundblad who said “Don’t take decisions based on the norms. Your PhD should be for yourself, not for others”. I would keep this advice in mind whenever I feel overwhelmed by the pressures of grad school.

If someone curious in attending a future iteration of this meeting asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I would definitely recommend s/he get to know fellow scientists and their research before attending the meeting because there is a lot to learn from them and there will be even more to learn once at the meeting and you are able to speak with them face-to-face.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
I love the impeccable blend of nature and science in this campus. The beautiful structures of different biomolecules across campus add a lot to the aesthetics of this place!

Thank you to Taizina for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.