Postdoc Spotlight

University of California, San Diego
Mauricio Montal’s Lab





Q: What field is your PhD in? How did you specialize in biophysics?

I received my PhD in Chemical Biology from the University of Oxford. During my PhD, I was privileged to work in the laboratory of Hagan Bayley on challenging projects that required a good grasp of biophysics. The collaboration with Jose Santos provided an incentive to focus on biophysics of ion channels.

Q: What is your current research project?

I am interested in studying ion channels and my work is currently centered on voltage gated potassium selective channels (Kv). The objective is to discover pathways to regulate the minimal ion-conducting module of the whole channel protein. I am also keen on establishing structure-function relations of these channels and particularly about specific interactions with their eternal partner, namely the “lipid bilayer.”

Q: What skills and experiences have you gained/do you hope to gain from your postdoc position?

My postdoctoral training under the supervision of Mauricio Montal has been tremendously productive. I have learned to be more independent in thinking and executing projects. I have acquired a positive attitude towards unsuccessful experiments. Truly, failures can direct us towards better experimental design and bring us one step closer to an answer. More than anything, the take-home lesson for me is “Enjoy the work you do, and do the best you can!”

Q: Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had in the past year?

A number of exciting things happened in 2012. The results of my three separate research projects got published in top journals. The Biophysical Society meeting in San Diego was an eye-opening and delightful experience. I presented the results of my research in a poster session and found the exchange productive, informative and inspirational for future work. It was also an opportunity to discuss and educate myself on what new science my colleagues have been practicing.

Q: What do you hope the next step in your career path will be?

I am eager to remain in academia and continue research. I am planning to apply for a faculty position in the near future.

Q: Why did you join the Biophysical Society?

I was invited by Daniel Minor, University of California, San Francisco to present my work at the Membrane Biophysics Subgroup Annual Symposium during the 2010 Biophysical Society meeting. The experience was unique and I decided to join the Society for good. I would like to take this opportunity and thank everyone who works enthusiastically to keep the Biophysical Society and its meetings up and running. I am honored to be a member of the Biophysical Society.

Q: If you were not a biophysicist, what would you be?

An MD-Ph.D. running a biophysics lab and practicing molecular medicine.

Mauricio Montal MD, PhD says:

Ruhma is just terrific. This year she has published a full article in Nature and another in PNAS. Others are in the pipeline. She is a biophysicist at heart, passionate and driven about her science. Her personal background would be an eye-opener and a model for young women to pursue biophysics as the theme of a lifetime.

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 January 2013 Table of Contents