Science at the McCormick center | Blog #1

I’ve been working in Dr. Banerjee’s lab since September of 2014. I entered the lab through UROP. The lab is located in MSRB III and is considered part of the biochemistry department. During the fall and winter semesters I spend 15 hours a week in the lab on average. During the spring and summer semesters I spend between 20 – 35 hours in lab depending on my course load.

Last summer was the conclusion of my research on myoglobin. Since then I’ve been investigating the reduction of cytochrome c, an essential redox active heme protein in the electron transport chain, by sulfide, and how this mechanism may contribute to sulfide homeostasis in mammalian cells. I am advised on this project by my PI, Dr. Ruma Banerjee, and my mentor, Dr. Victor Vitvitsky. While I discuss the project with Victor on a daily basis, my meetings with Ruma are typically limited to once or twice a week.

Last summer, Victor and I attending a conference in New Hampshire to participate in a poster talk session to present our research on heme proteins and sulfide. At the end of April, I attended an ASBMB conference in Chicago with my coworkers from the lab, excluding Victor. This proved to be an excellent opportunity to display my confidence and knowledge of my research without guidance. That is not to say, however, that Victor is an overbearing mentor.

At the conference, I visited the panoply of posters, and met several students like myself. Admittedly, a fair amount of the posters and talks did not appeal to my interests. The talks that I had a desire to attend were spectacular. For example, there was a talk given by a researcher at Caltech who spoke about their synthesis of Si-C bonds using a cytochrome carbene catalyst, demonstrating the capacity for biologically relevant macromolecules to utilize inorganic silicon. It is important to attend conferences to familiarize myself with the research that is being conducted in my field, and to monitor the progress of competing labs.

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