Meet Eduardo Scopel Ferreira da Costa of the University of Georgia. He is a third year PhD student, a member of Douda Bensasson’s lab, and since last week has been training in our yeast course (and for the Plate Race). Though just a little over a week into the three-week annual course, the Brazilian national is fully immersed and has already gathered newfound techniques and experiments to bring back to his home institution.
What are your research interests? What are you working on?
From an evolutionary and ecological perspective, I study the variation in the number of chromosomes (aneuploidy) in yeast living in different environments; e.g. beer, oak trees, or humans. The long-term goal of my project is to develop a model that can estimate the occurrence of this type of mutation not only in yeast, but in any eukaryote.
How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
Aneuploidy is associated with drug resistance in pathogenic fungi and many diseases in humans, including cancer. It is quite common in yeast, which is also an amazing model system with a wide availability of tools. The possibility to combine evolutionary biology with bioinformatics to study such an exciting topic was the main reason why I chose this as the focus of my research.
How did your scientific journey begin?
I knew I wanted to work in science since high school. I was always very curious and excited to make things work better, which was the main reason I decided to get my undergraduate degree in Engineering. That drive to work in science grew after I got my master’s in Biotechnology and was consolidated after I started teaching undergraduate Engineering classes back in Brazil. The experience of mentoring students and being able to share my knowledge with others is very rewarding, and is one of my major long-term goals as a scientist.
Was there something specific about the Yeast Genetics & Genomics course that drew you to apply?
My training is in Engineering and I have been working exclusively with bioinformatics lately. So, I felt that the next logical step for me was to strengthen my training in yeast genetics and wet lab techniques. I believe that to completely utilize the awesome power of yeast genetics I needed to know how to generate the data I am accustomed to analyzing everyday using computational tools. The combination of the training given by lead scientists in the field with the immersive environment provided by the course were other reasons that drew me to apply.
The techniques I was mostly interested in learning were Genome Engineering, Synthetic Genetic Arrays, and Fluctuation Analysis.
Though you’re only roughly one third of the way through the course, what have you so far learned from it that you can apply to your work?
Before coming to the Yeast Course, I was only working on the computational analysis of data generated from other studies. Now, I will be able to generate data myself and follow-up with my computational analyses. When I go back, I will immediately start using experiments I learned in the course, many of which are not currently being done in the Lab I work in.
Do you already have a takeaway from the course that you want to share?
The instructors and TAs have done an amazing job planning a course that challenges students constantly. Even though the workload of the course is very high, it is totally worth it. I feel like I have been learning something new every day, even in subjects where I have been working on for a long time. Also, the experiments are carefully designed for the students to learn multiple techniques and concepts simultaneously. This combination of depth and breadth of content is rarely found in similar courses.
If someone curious in attending this course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I had an amazing experience learning many new things and meeting outstanding scientists from different fields. This has the potential to be a turning point in someone’s professional career. My only advice would be to come well- rested and prepared for a very intense and challenging course.
What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The immersive environment of the course and having the opportunity to meet people that share the same passion I have for science.
Eduardo received financial support from Regeneron to cover a portion of his tuition. On behalf of Eduardo, thank you to Regeneron for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.
Thank you to Alison 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.