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Growth in Newborn Cells

Julie RichJulie Rich joined the lab of Maitreyi Das as an undergraduate student researcher and published an honors thesis on describing the basic principles of cell polarity establishment. Julie expressed her interest in pursuing a PhD degree in biology, and Das was so impressed with her acumen for science and her strong critical thinking skills that she encouraged Julie to join the graduate program in BCMB.

“My interest in biology was sparked by my high school AP biology class,” Julie says. “It was my first-in-depth exposure to complex biological topics.”

In the Das lab, Julie has initiated a novel line of research where she is exploring the signaling mechanisms that allow a cell to resume growth at the end of division.

“My research aims to explain how a cell achieves its shape,” Julie says. “A cell’s function often depends on its shape. Cells come in many different shapes, providing some difficulty in teasing apart the mechanisms governing establishment of cell shape via polarized growth. Our research is helping to establish the basic principles of Cdc42 regulation in relation to cell polarity, which are applicable to higher eukaryotes.”

Julie was awarded a prestigious graduate research fellowship by the National Science Foundation to pursue her research. Das is very confident that Julie will be very successful in her endeavor and is excited to see where her research takes her in the future.

“For me, the value in conducting research has been in learning how to ask good scientific questions,” Julie says. “I have also learned that gathering relevant data and communicating findings effectively are critical elements of putting together a convincing scientific story.” effectively are critical elements of putting together a convincing scientific story.”