“There’s a difference between knowing what’s in the textbook vs. actually doing the research and actually figuring it out,” said Natalie Lo ’21, an undergraduate researcher who recently received the SASS Foundation Arena Scholars award recognizing research potential in the field of cancer biology.
“When you’re in classes, you’re learning and essentially absorbing information, but you’re not able to apply the information,” Lo said. “When you’re doing hands-on research, you’re able to apply and think about how an experiment should be set up based on the knowledge that you already have.”
As a member of the research group of Hyungjin Kim (Pharmacological Sciences) since May 2019, Lo works on characterizing the interaction of TIMELESS (TIM) in the DNA Damage Response pathway and its role in the DNA replication fork protection in conjunction with PARP1.
She is a co-author of the lab’s recently published Nature Communications paper titled “SDE2 integrates into the TIMELESS-TIPIN complex to protect stalled replication forks.”
When in-person laboratory work was suspended due to COVID, Lo took the opportunity to conduct extensive literature search and review on recent characterizations of the regulatory roles TIM plays at both active and stalled replication forks to enhance her understanding of the project and to prepare her return to wet work in the lab.
“During the school year, I don’t have that much time to sit and read 30 to 60 papers,” she said. “But during the summer I was able to actually sit down and comb through the material to figure out everything that there is to know about TIMELESS, which was really helpful.”
Majoring in both biology and sociology in the Women and Science in Engineering (WISE) honors program, Lo got involved in research from the get-go. In her freshman year, she was a member of the 2018 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM ) Team — the student-led research team that worked to engineer cyanobacteria to fix atmospheric carbon dioxide and generate sucrose that could be used for biofuels or plastics. She returned from the Giant Jamboree competition in Boston in Fall 2018 with Stony Brook’s first Gold Medal.
Lo continued her involvement with iGEM as a 2019 teaching assistant and has also served as a teaching assistant for CHE 152, CHE 331/332 (General and Organic Chemistry), BIO 320 (Genetics), and SOC 340 (Sociology of Human Reproduction). Natalie currently works as a medical assistant (Sing Chan Endoscopy) and as a Port Jefferson EMS volunteer. She has volunteered at Stony Brook University Medical Center on the Surgical Critical Care Floor and has also shadowed a doctor at Weill Cornell Medicine. On campus Lo is a writer for Stony Brook Young Investigators Review and is a team member of the Stony Brook Badminton Team and Badminton Club. Her long-term goal is to pursue an MD/PhD.