Yeast Course

Visitor of the Week: Artemiza Martinez

2018-visitor-artemiza-martinez

Meet Artemiza Martinez of the International Laboratory of Human Genome Research (LIIGH) at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Artemiza did her undergraduate studies at LIIGH before transitioning into a research assistant in Lucia Morales’ Yeast Genome Evolution lab. The Mexican national is on campus training at the Yeast Genetics & Genomics course where she is expanding her knowledge of yeast and gaining wet lab experience to further strengthen her PhD application. She also talks about the crowdfunding campaign she set up to fund a portion of her tuition. 

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am working to understand evolutionary processes using yeast as a model system. In the lab, we are working with hybrid yeasts to understand the process of hybridization. At the same time I love fermentative processes because it’s really interesting how yeasts perform to obtain different products like wine. 

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research? 
Because there are so many different topics I am passionate about and could be happy working with, I wasn’t entirely sure what I want to study until recently. My various research internships and undergraduate thesis guided me towards studying yeast genetics, and I really love what I do.

How did your scientific journey begin? 
In high school I took a genetics class and it was my favorite. After reading an article on the applications of microorganisms in many of the products we use daily, I decided to study biotechnology. I became even more passionate about science during my undergraduate thesis work at LIIGH and  thanks to the investigators who work there and shared with me their life stories and the importance of scientific research. 

Was there something specific about the Yeast Genetics & Genomics course that drew you to apply?
I was motivated by my desire to learn more about yeast and to strengthen the base for my doctorate. In LIIGH, we normally focus on bioinformatics analyses so we have little wet lab experience. Many of the techniques in the course are of great utility to answer future questions in the laboratory, and I am certain this course will develop my skills and knowledge of lab protocols and methodologies.

You created an online fundraiser that helped raise funds to attend the yeast course - talk us through what brought on the initiative.
Because the US dollar has been very strong compared with my national currency (the Mexican peso) it was very difficult for me to pay for the course. Thankfully, I was able to receive financial support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust and HHMI but I needed to raise the funds to cover the remaining balance. And since attending this course is an opportunity I could not let go to waste, I decided to set up a fundraiser. My goal was $1,756 USD (which includes Donadora’s commission) and I am happy to announce that I achieved my goal. I am very thankful for the many people who donated and helped make possible my attendance to this course, and now it is my duty to learn and share my knowledge in my country.

Would you recommend future course trainees to start their own online fundraising campaign to help finance their participation in a CSHL course? 
It is a good option for those who lack the funds to attend the course but it will require time to put together and get off the ground. I spent hours contacting people to convince them of the benefits of my attending a training course in the US and inform them of my fundraiser. This was hard and frustrating at first but when the donations began to come in, I felt nothing but joy and gratitude. Now, I feel even more motivated to achieve my goals which I share with those who supported me and expect the best of me.

What and/or how will you apply what you've learned from the course to your work? 
Many of the methodologies being discussed and shown in the course are necessary for the project on which we are working. My intention is to be able to transmit this knowledge to the new students entering the lab who are interested in working with yeast.

What is your key takeaway from the course?
That working in the lab can be so much fun! I have gotten to know experienced researchers working on very interesting topics who are further motivating me to pursue my goals. The ability and opportunity to share what you do and your passion for science with people from all over the world is a very gratifying sensation.

How many CSHL courses have you attended?
This is my first course in CSHL, I hope it is not the last.

If someone curious in attending this course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
It is an intense course that demands all your energy but it is totally worth it. The instructors and teaching assistants put so much effort and joy into preparing and teaching that instead of feeling tired, you become curious and ready to learn more and take full advantage of the course. And of course, you cannot miss out on the opportunity to train at such a beautiful institute.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
Learning science here is fun and every day there is something new to enjoy.

Artemiza received a scholarship from the Helmsley Charitable Trust and financial support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to cover a portion of her course tuition. On behalf of Artemiza, thank you to the Helmsley Charitable Trust  and HHMI for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Artemiza 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.

Visitor of the Week: Jose Aguilar Rodriguez

Photo by Constance Brukin

Photo by Constance Brukin

Meet Jose Aguilar Rodriguez of the University of Zurich (Switzerland). Next month, the PhD student and member of the Molecular Evolution and Evolutionary Systems Biology Laboratory headed by Andreas Wagner will be defending his PhD dissertation titled "Genotype-Phenotype Maps in Complex Living Systems". Then in November, the Swiss National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship recipient will join Dmitri Petrov in the Department of Biology of Stanford University and Daniel Jarosz in the Departments of Chemical & Systems Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Jose attended the 2017 Yeast Genetics & Genomics course, which concluded earlier this week, to help him prepare for his postdoc at Stanford. 

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am a biologist with broad research interests centered on the evolution of biological systems and the fundamental organizational principles of life. My research aims to elucidate how genotypes map onto phenotypes and fitness in diverse living systems. Having worked on a genotype-phenotype map using mostly computational approaches during my PhD, in my postdoc I intend to leverage recent advances in DNA synthesis, high-throughput sequencing, and DNA barcoding to go a step further and approach this question experimentally in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. More specifically, I plan to study how different environments and genetic backgrounds change the fitness effect of mutations in major signaling pathways. To do so, I will combine computational approaches with cutting-edge techniques for genome engineering and high-resolution lineage tracking. 

Was there something specific about the Yeast Genetics & Genomics course that drew you to apply?
I have not carried out any experimental work with yeast during my PhD so yeast is a completely new model organism for me. However, since I intend to work extensively with yeast during my postdoc at Stanford, it was important that I learn as much as possible about state-of-the-art experiment methods in yeast and in a short period of time. The yeast course allowed me to learn the methods much faster than I would or could have otherwise, and I now have the technical competence to confidently carry out my postdoctoral research.

What is your key takeaway from the course?
My main takeaway from the course is that budding yeast and related species constitute an extraordinary model system to study many important genetic and evolutionary phenomena that I find fascinating.

How many CSHL courses have you attended? How about CSHL meetings?
To date, I have just attended the 2017 Yeast Genetics & Genomics course but I would love to take CSHL's Advanced Bacterial Genetics course. I would also like to present my research in a CSHL meeting. I find the Systems Biology: Networks meeting interesting, and my research would fit well with the meeting program.

If someone curious in attending your course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I would tell them that the course may be challenging at times but the experience is totally worth it. You will often need to work in the lab well past midnight but you learn a lot in a very short period of time. Look back, I am amazed by how many different experiments we carried out in just three weeks. The course dexterously combined classical techniques with techniques that are at the forefront of the field. For example, the course included – for the first time in its long history – a deep mutational scanning experiment, which is a cutting-edge method that simultaneously determines the functional effects of thousands of mutations in a single macromolecule. The instructors, teaching assistants, and other attendees are amazing people and great scientists – you will learn from all of them. I specially enjoyed the chalk talks by the invited speakers, as well as the opportunity to talk science with them. Also, a piece of advice: Read the course manual before the start of the course. You won’t have time to read it once the course starts. No joke.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The campus is beautiful and the social atmosphere in the course was fantastic. I made great friends!

Jose received a Helmsley Fellowship. On behalf of Jose, thank you to The Helmsley Charitable Trust for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Jose 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.