Graduate student voice in the news

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In honor of National Women’s Health Week, BMSB PhD student Nicole Lynn (Torres lab) writes article about women’s health for ASBMB Today magazine.  
Lynn’s article was featured in the May 10, 2020, issue of ASBMB Today, the member magazine of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).

A second-year graduate student in the Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology (BMSB) program, Lynn conducts research in Professor Jorge Torres’ group. She studies a human family of microtubule severing enzymes known as Katanins, and is working to characterize their potential unique functions and capacity for compensation in cells due to observed isoform redundancies.  

Lynn’s article marked the beginning of the 21st annual National Women’s Health Week “in celebration of women and the many contributions they make every day globally”. She volunteered to write the article when ASBMB put out a call for volunteer writers for their Health Observances campaign. Lynn explained, “I am highly interested in spreading awareness about science and health to the greater community, so I followed up on it and was welcomed enthusiastically by the editor, who is also passionate about disseminating science- and health-based research.”   

Because it is a personal matter for her, not just because of her gender, Lynn chose women’s health from the topics she was offered. “In my time as an undergraduate student and in my work-life prior to graduate school I constantly encountered women who don’t have access to proper information regarding women’s health, or are heavily misinformed,” Lynn said. “Simultaneously, many of the women I know personally (including myself) struggle daily with issues related to women’s health (endometriosis, PCOS, cardiovascular health, hormonal health, etc.), which inspired me to tackle this topic. I want to encourage women to dive more deeply into this, and understand the differences in symptoms and diagnosis compared to our male counterparts.”

As an undergraduate researcher in Professor Craig LaMunyon’s group at the California Polytechnic State University, Lynn studied the genetic and molecular biology analysis of C. elegans and investigated the effects of mutated genes on spermatogenesis. Her research there was sponsored by diversity programs including NIH funded TRIO-McNAIR and RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement), which promoted/encouraged her interest in pursuing a Ph.D. Lynn graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology. She joined Torres’ group in 2018.

Lynn is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, a Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB) Training Fellow, and a Cota Robles Fellow. She is actively involved in events and outreach with the UCLA’s Graduate Biochemistry Student Association (gBSA), UCLA’s Advancing Women in Science and Engineering (AWise), and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), all of which engage in youth-based promotion of science in underrepresented Los Angeles communities as well as charter and other Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) based schools (examples include UCLA’s Exploring Your Universe, CNSI Nanovation, and AWise STEM day).

After receiving her Ph.D., Lynn is interested in pursuing a career in industry or potentially in translational research. “I really enjoy benchwork and seeing projects move forward,” she said. “I also have growing interests in scientific communication, outreach and education. It would be great to find a position where I can both perform research and also help disseminate science to the surrounding community. As I transition into my third year at UCLA, I will work to direct my focus towards ironing out these goals such that by the end of my time here I have a clear idea of what comes next.”

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,