Ubiquitin Meeting

Visitor of the Week: Kenrick Waite

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Meet Kenrick Waite of Kansas State University. The graduate student in Jeroen Roelofs’ lab returned to the Lab for his second, consecutive ubiquitin meeting; and, just as he did at the 2017 iteration of this ubiquitin meeting, Kenrick presented a poster at this year’s Ubiquitin, Autophagy & Disease meeting as well as a lightning talk. He still fondly remembers his first poster experience at CSHL in 2017:

My poster presentation was the most useful part of the meeting for my work. I received tons of suggestions on what would make my conclusions stronger and advice regarding different techniques I could use in my research. Here is where the constructive criticism happens.

Kenrick considered his back-to-back poster presentation and shared this:

My poster presentation at this meeting was as beneficial, if not more so, than my presentation at the last Ubiquitin Family Meeting. The data I presented is novel and has never been seen before by researchers outside of the Roelofs lab or the Division of Biology at K-State. Having this group of scientist with such diverse expertise is a real benefit because they ask questions that I had previously not heard or considered. As was the case with the last meeting, these experts constructively criticized my work and offered lots of suggestions for next steps and improvements. Suggestions that will make the data stronger and its presentation clearer. I am happy I took the opportunity to return to CSHL.

We’re certain Kenrick will be back for another CSHL meeting in the future; but, for the meantime, here’s what he had to say of his participation at the 2019 Ubiquitin, Autophagy & Disease meeting:

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am interested in protein degradation and the phenotypes that arise when this fails. Currently, I study how proteasomes localization and abundance are affected by cellular stress.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
At first, I did not specifically know what I would study in graduate school. I had a general interest in cancer biology and found that proteasomes play a role in cancer survival. That drew me to this field early in my career.

How did your scientific journey begin?
My science career started in high school with a very good teacher who inspired me to learn about and understand the world at a deeper level. The subject was anatomy and physiology and having moved from Jamaica I had not had the opportunity to see this type of science before. Learning precisely how the human body carries out function was what got me hooked. I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world at the time.

Was there something specific about the Ubiquitin, Autophagy & Disease meeting that drew you to attend?
I attended the 2017 Ubiquitin Family meeting and very much enjoyed my experience. The quality of the research I saw from posters to talks was simply amazing. I also met a lot of fantastic people in the ubiquitin field and was thrilled to see them again. With the specific addition of autophagy and disease sections to this meeting, I was even more excited to attend. This meeting is an excellent chance to share my data with top researchers and take advantage of their experience and expertise.

What is your key takeaway from the meeting?
This meeting is a great way to get feedback on my work and to see what the top scientist in my field are working on. To see the work presented makes for a better appreciation of its importance. The ability to question the scientist either after presentations or informally at breakfast, lunch, dinner or in the hallway, really helps in solidifying my understanding.

What did you pick up or learn from the meeting that you plan to apply to your work?
I have learned a lot about the cutting-edge research my colleagues are engaged in. Specific to my research, I have found sources for antibodies I have been wanting to use in my system for some time. Further, new techniques to study autophagy were presented which I will incorporate into my work.

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 advise any scientist who studies ubiquitin’s, autophagy and disease to attend this meeting in the future. It is a fantastic opportunity to not only see cutting edge work, but also interact with scientists who can advise your work. The people that attend this meeting genuinely care about training the next generation of scientists, and this is a perfect opportunity to get career advice and hear what these established researchers have to say. Particularly when it comes to establishing a successful scientific career.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
I like that I can meet and build relationships with like-minded people in this type of atmosphere.  The Cold Spring Harbor campus is beautiful. I really enjoy the harbor and natural areas around campus.

Thank you to Kenrick 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: Cynthia Wolberger

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This week, we hosted the ninth CSHL meeting on The Ubiquitin Family. This biennial meeting attracts molecular biologists who study a particular family of cellular proteins called ubiquitins. A great number of the meeting participants are junior scientists: In fact, 47% of this year's meeting are graduate students and postdocs, and 77% of them were selected to present a talk or a poster.

We checked in with Cynthia Wolberger, a CSHL meeting veteran and returning Ubiquitin Family meeting organizer, for a casual chat about the meeting and its role in the ubiquitin community.

We have an exciting mix of talks. From the very basic biochemistry and structure that explains the mechanism of how ubiquitin works, through its effects in live organisms, all the way through to drug discovery where people are finding novel ways of targeting these pathways and treating diseases such as autoimmune diseases and cancer. It’s very exciting to see the full range of all of that science presented together.

The other always exciting thing to see is the junior investigators. Graduate students, postdocs, people about to transition to become new assistant professors, presenting their work, doing such a FANTASTIC job. And watching as the next generation of investigators in this field go off and become independent. 

I look at some of them sometimes and marvel at the work they’ve done and I think, “I didn’t do anything close to that important or groundbreaking when I first started out!” But so much more is possible now.

For more on Cynthia and her work, visit her lab's website.

For more conversations with our other meeting organizers and course instructors, go here. Also, to gain a meeting-goer's perspective on this meeting, read our Q&A with Judy Ronau.

Visitor of the Week: Judith Ronau

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Meet Judith Ronau of Yale University. Judy is a postdoc in Mark Hochstrasser's lab and a CSHL first-timer. She is on campus for The Ubiquitin Family meeting and shares amazing feedback about the meeting and why you should attend its next iteration in 2019. 

What are you working on?
I am working on a bacterial protein that induces sterility in insects. In particular, I am focused on studying its biochemical and structural properties.

What is your key takeaway from the Meeting?
A lot of spectacular science has been discussed, but in my opinion, one of the most exciting new directions in the ubiquitin research field has to be ubiquitination independent of the E1, E2, E3 enzymes (+ATP) in the canonical pathway. This fascinating work has been discussed so far by Chitta Das and Sagar Bhogaraju, with a third presentation from Ivan Dikic today! I was also thoroughly impressed with the work from Kylie Walters' lab in mapping ubiquitin binding sites at the proteasome!

Was there something specific about The Ubiquitin Family meeting that drew you to attend?
Having recently entered the ubiquitin research field after doing my PhD on a metabolic metalloenzyme, I wanted to come to this meeting to see what everyone is up to and make some solid connections. Also, this is the perfect opportunity to give a talk on my work and catch up with old friends.

If someone curious in attending this meeting asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
COME TO THIS MEETING!! There is a lot of interesting ubiquitin related research in a focused environment. Plus, the setting at CSHL is amazing. Every scientist dreams of coming here.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
It is really special just being here to appreciate the history of this place and seeing all of the pictures of legendary scientists in the bar. I have also really enjoyed strolling around the campus.

Thank you to Judy 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.