Telomeres & Telomerase Meeting

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.

A Word From: Roger Reddel

Roger Reddel (R)

Roger Reddel (R)

This week, we hosted the tenth CSHL meeting on Telomeres & Telomerase. Since it was first held in 1999, the meeting has consistently attracted a large number of junior scientists: more than half the participants have been graduate students or postdoctoral scholars overall, and 55% of this year’s attendees are junior scientists. Women are also well-represented at the meeting: they make up 46% of the meeting participants across all ten iterations and 48% of this year’s attendees.

We checked in with Roger Reddel, a long-time participant and returning organizer, to get his take on the meeting and how it continues to serve the telomere community. 

The program for each of the ten meetings has been organized according to the same set of principles, with essentially all of the talks being chosen by the organizers from submitted abstracts, based on the quality of the abstracts, how well they fit with the session themes, and the requirement that most of the data must be unpublished at the time of abstract submission. The session chairs are invited to nominate for oral presentation one abstract from their own lab that meets these criteria. Model organism research is always very well represented. 

The talks and posters at the 2017 meeting have demonstrated the continuous, exciting advances being made in most areas of telomere research, with much of the recent progress resulting from creative applications of new research technologies. Also, attendance at this meeting has been very similar to previous years—despite visa problems experienced by some of our colleagues—which I think reflects the pivotal role it continues to play in this research area.

Thank you to Roger for taking the time to chat with us. For more conversations with our other meeting organizers and course instructors, go here. Also, to gain a participant’s perspective on this meeting, read our Q&A with Borja Barbero.

Visitor of the Week: Borja Barbero


Meet Borja Barbero of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M University. Borja (pronounced bor-ha), a Spanish national and second year graduate student in the Shippen Lab, is on campus for the 2017 Telomeres & Telomerase meeting where he presented a poster. Read on to learn about the CSHL first-timer's work and refreshing take on the meeting. 

What are you working on? 
My focus is on plant telomeres. More specifically, I work on Arabidopsis Thaliana POT1B, a negative regulator of telomerase that seems to have evolved a role in plant development.

What is your key takeaway from the Meeting?
My key takeaway is something Dr. Tom Cech said at the beginning of one of the sessions: "The research presented in these presentations are incomplete; however, with discussions among colleagues, we can make it more complete."

How many CSHL meetings have you attended?
This is the first meeting that I have attended at CSHL and, so far, it has been great. I hope to come back for the next Telomeres & Telomerase meeting. 

Was there something about the Telomeres & Telomerase meeting that drew you to attend? 
I was given the opportunity to present a poster at this meeting. It was a really good experience since I received excellent feedback from the telomere community.

If someone curious in attending this meeting asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her? 
That this meeting is definitely an excellent chance to hear new insights on any scientific field from the brightest minds in the world.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL? 
I enjoy the enthusiasm and scientific spirit -- everyone is so driven to push science forward.

Thank you to Borja 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.