Each month, a different BCMB lab will be interviewed and featured in the BCMB News Lab Spotlight. This month, Diedre Ribbens visited the Robinson Lab in the Department of Cell Biology.
PI Name: Doug Robinson
Number of Years in BCMB: almost 11
Model System(s): Dictyostelium discoideum, human cells, mouse oocytes and hepatocytes, breast cancer cells
Research Area: The Robinson Lab is interested in how cells control and change their shape.
Lab Personnel: (AKA “Lab Rats”)
Doug Robinson, Associate Professor
Alexandra Surcel, Postdoc
Hoku West-Foyle, Predoctoral, BCMB
Tianzhi Luo, Postdoc
Sheil Kee, Predoctoral, Biophysics
Cathy Kabacoff, Sr. Lab Technician
Yixin Ren, Research Specialist
Sarah Brown, Undergrad
Vasudha Srivastava, Predoctoral, Chem and Biomol. Eng.
Interview With the Robinson Lab
BCMBNews (BN): What is your favorite thing about being in BCMB?
Doug Robinson (DR): Working with the students. I really enjoy being part of thesis committees, teaching – I teach an elective and I lecture for the core courses, and sometimes even participating in GBO exams [orals].
Hoku West-Foyle (HWF): I really love the camaraderie between students. You know, the first few years you really form solid friendships and do a lot of activities with your classmates, and even in later years when we’re all spread out, it’s nice to get together and just hang out.
BN: What’s the most fun activity your lab does together?
DR: We do a lot of activities, for instance, we have an annual pool party, and we always do something for the holidays. Last year we made that blooper video [for the Department of Cell Bio Blooper Contest]. We eat lunch together daily, and we don’t talk about science during lunch. It’s great the lab invites me to have lunch with them.
HWF: We have lab dinners – we cook food and hang out and talk. We sometimes have a list of ingredients, you know, like you pick them out of a hat and you have to make something that contains those ingredients.
BN: Like Iron Chef?
HWF: Yeah! Or sometimes we have a theme and you have to make something that fits that theme.
Alexandra Surcel (AS): We have the dinners together, we get ice cream together, sometimes we just belly dance in the lab…
Vasudha Srivastava (VS): My favorite thing? SCIENCE! And we have a lab mascot, a beta fish that lives in Doug’s office.
Sheil Kee (SK): We have a lot of random chuckles together during the day.
BN: Where do you see your research going in the next five years?
DR: We have achieved such a sophisticated understanding of cytokinesis, we’d like to use this information to study cleavage in various ways, and apply it to more complex scenarios like tissues. We’d like to learn more about the morphogenesis and the mechanics. If you want to build a 747, it’s good to know how a paper airplane works. You have to know the basics. Maybe you figure out the paper airplane, then build up to a Cessna or a Cobra. I’d say right now our understanding is around the Cessna/Cobra level.
You can find more information about the Robinson Lab and their work by visiting their lab website.