Student Spotlight

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jennifer Ross Lab




Q: What initially attracted you to biophysics?

I have always loved microscopy because of its power to visualize cells and structures within cells. However, the ability to visualize single protein molecules and to study the properties of these individual proteins is still absolutely amazing to me, and what led me to biophysics.

Q: What specific areas are you studying?

I am studying the cytoskeleton, specifically microtubules and the motor protein, kinesin-1.

Q: What is your current research project?

My current research project involves understanding how kinesin-1 functions to efficiently transport cargos on complex microtubule tracks.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduation?

After graduation, I ultimately hope to work as a research scientist in industry.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their undergraduate science career, what would it be?

Join a lab where you can be exposed to research as soon as possible. This experience will not only prepare you for a future in science, but will help you get more out of your coursework as you will be better able to realize the direct implications of what you are learning in class.

Q: Why did you join the Biophysical Society?

I joined the Biophysical Society because I saw the Annual Meeting as a great avenue to present my research and receive valuable feedback from others in the field.

Q: What (or who) inspires you scientifically?

I am inspired by the fact that science is everywhere. Gaining a detailed understanding of the mechanisms behind what we see in nature and how cells carry out their specific functions fascinates me.

Jennifer Ross, Leslie’s PI says:

It was my pleasure to nominate Leslie. She is a fantastic student researcher. It seems like only yesterday that Leslie came to do her rotation in my lab. Now, she has been here for five years! Leslie was very interested in biophysics when she came to UMass, and rotated in the labs of two different biophysicists. I was very lucky that she chose my lab. She is a hard worker with amazing hands who can turn any written protocol from a paper into a working experiment. Further, she is also thoughtful and creative with an amazing attention to detail. She offers help and mentoring to other students and undergraduates, and is the person in the lab who people turn to first for help, which she is always willing to provide. Leslie is a great microscopist. She wields our home-built total internal reflection fluorescence microscope for single molecule imaging like it is an extension of herself. She has an essential skill required for scientific measurements: the ability to spot something interesting and pursue it until you figure out what is happening. This has led her to a number of interesting and novel experimental results that have resulted in publications in Nature, Cell Biology, and PNAS. She will likely submit two more publications on similar novel results before she leaves. We are definitely going to submit some of her new, very cool work, to Biophysical Journal. Although I am sad to have Leslie leave the lab, I know she will continue to impress and amaze. Having her represent my laboratory is truly an honor. It
has been a privilege to serve as her adviser and mentor for the past five years.

July 2013 Table of Contents