Montclare Lab Group

Every year on March 8, we celebrate International Working Women’s Day (IWD). However, IWD was originally instituted as a day for militancy and action. Now, liberal institutions and feminist organizations recognize International Women’s Day, and work towards measures to end bias. Each year in different regions of the world, IWD is celebrated by raising the issues of bias and forming legislations for women’s rights. Seldom do we hear from girl next door who is enjoying science and making accomplishments that she is proud of.

I hail from a country where the births of girls were considered the biggest crime. In a male dominated country, female death was as common as rains in a rainy season. But this is all myth for me. Things have changed drastically in the past 50 years. I have an elder sister and a younger brother and my father never discriminated among us. In fact, my father is my inspiration to move towards science and research. It’s because of his persistence that I came New York to pursue Master’s in Biology. Even while working as a software engineer in a team of 15 male members and one other female member, I never complained nor was ever mis-treated. I even led a team of my seniors for project completion, based on my caliber and experience in the particular domain.

At NYU, I am currently working as Graduate Research Assistant at Montclare lab. When I joined the Lab, I was inspired by the energy and passion of each member. The lab has almost same ratio of male and female members and the amazing thing is that it is led by a female professor – Dr. Jin Montclare. She is genuinely open, warm and unbiased person who want to see the students succeed. She is willing to give the students the opportunity to explore the diverse research environment, irrespective of their degree or gender. The working environment is highly conducive to high quality research. My fellow male candidates never made me feel unwanted in research.

"If the bringing of women - half the human race - into the center of historical inquiry poses a formidable challenge to historical scholarship, it also offers sustaining energy and a source of strength."

Very accurately summarized by Dr. Gerda Lerner in an interview to Journal of American History, 1982. Women have contributed in all the ways there are to the technical advancement of humanity. They held the same burdens of scholarship as the men did, and they accomplished just as much. What strikes me most is that the statement is gender unbiased, i.e, a woman is shown equal to man.

Writing this blog on International Women month\week, gives me the opportunity to thank each and every male member in my life who has somewhere realized me that it’s my own capabilities and notion that would take me ahead in my life. If ever I have been victim of gender discrimination or been deprived of an opportunity, I would like to thank them for doing so as it made me work harder to excel.

Happy international Women day to each and everyone!

 -Ekta Sharma

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Similar to a blind man, a scientist greatest wish is to visually appreciate the wonders that lie in the colors of the rainbow
My desire to pursue science was not inspired by my parents’ occupation or someone that worked in that profession. Similar to other children growing up, I was exposed to the typical careers such as doctor, lawyer and business. In fact, it was not until I reached the age of maybe 20 that I became aware of what science is or being officially introduced to a certified scientist. For the latter, I was perplexed when it was made known that my biology professor is a scientist; perplexed because I was accustomed by society to recognize scientists as individuals who wear lab coat while working in labs.
Thus, where does my desire to pursue science came from? Well, it started when I was in 4th grade when I encountered the illustration of a plant in a science textbook. Maybe it was the artistic drawing of the plant that captivated me. After all, it was rare to find drawings or pictures of organisms in such artistic details in my other textbooks. However, thinking a little bit deeper, even if I did encounter illustration of plants as in much artistic details in my other textbooks, there was one major distinction that separated that science textbook from the rest; it explained the nature and inner workings of plants. My perception of a plant was never the same after that encounter. My perception of a plant has changed from something that’s simply green to something that is intrinsically complex and composed of many different aspects. 
As I get older while obtaining a higher education in science, I developed a fascination for life at the molecular level. As an undergrad I was fascinated by organic chemistry and microbiology. Microbiology opened my eyes to the exciting world of cellular organisms and organic chemistry showed me the mechanistic aspects of a cellular organism’s internal operations. From that point, I started to recognize gradually the chemical reactions that are responsible for the inner workings of organisms and also begin to understand the vast improvement in society that can be made by further understanding the molecules that orchestrate these reactions
Thus, from holding on to this fascination, I am currently in my last year as a master’s student in biotechnology and a member of the Montclare lab. In regarding the former, I am interested in pursuing a career in the biotech/pharmaceutical company. In regarding the latter, in my heart the Montclare lab will always be special because it is the most supportive scientific environment I have ever been a part of. While it is true that I have been part of good labs before, however, it was not until I became a member of the Montclare lab that I felt like a scientist. A scientist not because of a fascination toward a scientific subject, but a scientist because for the first time I felt like I researched and contributed toward the greatest gift that a man can hold-Knowledge.
-Rudy Jacquet 

Our research collaboration with Seiichi Yamano at NYUCD is highlighted!

Here’s another highlight about our biomaterials research!

jkmontclare:

Highlight based on our recent paper in biomacromolecules

Opportunities for Real-World Applications

For a bit of variety, I suppose I should delve into what science may be able to bring us in the future as opposed to what science has done for us in the past.

 

Ever the internet enthusiast and connoisseur, I stumbled upon a news article last week detailing the creation and consumption of the first fully lab-engineered hamburger.  The goal of the experiment, headed by Dutch researcher Mark Post of the University of Maastricht, was to create a hamburger that looked and tasted identical to a real hamburger.  The muscle cells were collected from healthy cows and cultured into the resulting beef patties.  Although they were judged to be a tad flavorless, this setback could easily be solved by engineering fat tissue into the meat, which gives meat its characteristic flavor.

 

At the price of $325,000, these burgers won’t be solving world hunger anytime soon, but humanity has made the first step.  The prototype is there.  Now it is up to future researchers and engineers to build on this research, to make the artificial burger experience closer to the real deal, to make the burger healthy and ensure its safety for human consumption.  Most importantly, it is imperative to scale its production up so that the food becomes economically feasible to produce, store, and consume so that one day it may truly help solve world hunger.

 

It is these types of scientific breakthroughs: lab-engineered meat, ultra high-speed transportation, growing whole organs with stem cells, and many others, that drive many researchers’ curiosity and research, including myself.  Where science will take us, no one truly knows.  Will we conquer diseases?  Will we never have to worry about nourishment again?  Can we attain instantaneous transportation?  Will we find out what is really out there?  These questions are what motivate me in my efforts.

 

-RZ

Why I love science

Merriam-Webster defines science as the state of knowing: something that may be learned like systematized knowledge. The science of science however is something that will never be learned. It seems that with recent discoveries the unknown mysteries of science are becoming less and less, but we will never learn everything that there is to learn about the universe. That is precisely why many scientists love it. We are constantly chasing knowledge that we know is out of reach, but are still obsessed with the journey that it can take us on.

My journey started from a very early age, I have always been obsessed with how and why things were able to work. Science has always been the subject that I looked forward to. I dreaded everything else. Towards the end of high school, I decided to commit myself to science and with that I started my career in science.

This past summer I started my research career in a protein engineering research lab; the journey has been full of excitement. Performing my own research on experiments I designed is unlike any other science class I have experienced. The experiments that I am able to do are much more in depth and oftentimes open-ended in nature. The best part of the experience is the opportunity to test my own ideas and see the results of my own protocols. The weirdest part is seeing results that you don’t expect; figuring out the reason behind the peculiar results is a tough task but rewarding.

In the summer, I have just started taking real steps in my scientific journey. Although I have spent countless hours in the lab, I love every minute of it.

I am science

 

-Kevin Zhang

Expectations

             

  I’ve always had a passion for science. I’ve pretty much always known I’ve wanted to work in the lab and do research. In my head I had this idea of what it would be like. You get all those ideas from television shows and movies about how it’s all mixing chemicals and seeing immediate results and amazing things happens. Then you get to college and you realize it’s nothing like that.

                In college I sat there running experiments from a textbook. These experiments become rather repetitive and tedious. Week to week I performed the same general experiments on the same equipment – or no equipment at all – getting the same results, and then writing the same lab reports over and over. When I finally got the chance to work in a real lab, doing real research, things again changed drastically from what I expected.

                Once I got into an actual lab, it was nothing like the labs in college classes. It wasn’t like my 6th grade expectations either. But I suppose if you really think about it, it’s a meld of both. Just within my first couple days I was able to learn so much, without even having stepped foot inside of the lab. Once I was actually able to get in the lab and start doing stuff, the excitement just grew. I was finally able to do experiments and learn more about what it’s actually like to work in a lab setting. Now, being here for a little while, I’m actually able to design my own experiments to a point where I can test a hypothesis, or test whether something works better or not. To top it all off, I get to learn about and use all these machines that I’ve never had the privilege to use in a college lab setting. I get to get better results and accurate results.

And lastly, I get to work with these amazing people who have knowledge in the research they are doing. They are friendly and not only that, they help you and push you to keep going and learn more. I have my mentor and he constantly is pushing me to learn more and to work harder and overall just wants me to do well in the lab. It’s the experiences like this that I’ve wanted in my life while working in a lab. I get to actually help in the lab and provide my contribution to the research. It’s an amazing opportunity that I’m extremely grateful to have.

-Michael Lupo