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The Science of SpaceChris Hartlove

The Science of Space (continued)

The Outside View

Kate Laws, 4th-year PhD student, BMB
Alissa Armstrong, PhD, Postdoc, BMB
PI: Daniela Drummond-Barbosa, PhD

You are what you eat. We all know this is true, but why it’s true is another matter—especially when it comes to links between obesity and cancer.

Enter Kate Laws (left, top left photo) and Alissa Armstrong (right, top left photo).

“Basically,” says Laws, “we study the ways that what you ingest changes [how] your body functions—in a really tiny snapshot.”

That “snapshot” is the Drosophila fly. Both women are tracing nutrient-sensing pathways that lead through fat tissue to ovarian stem cells, ultimately impacting how many eggs the flies produce. The pair hopes to shed light on how diet affects stem cells in general, across a wide range of organisms and—since normal stem cells and cancer cells share many of the same pathways—on the cancer-fat connection in particular.

A Special Space: The Bacteria Stops Here

Karen Griffin
Laboratory Assistant, MMI
Glassware Lab

For over a decade, Karen Griffin has been working in the Glassware Lab, helping to ensure that every test tube, pipette and beaker in MMI gets cleaned and sterilized properly.

Griffin’s work begins when a researcher drops off a cart of dirty equipment, usually containing about 20 pieces of glassware. “Sometimes we have 20 carts,” she says. “Now we can do all 20 in eight hours.” With roughly 800–1,000 pieces coming in every week, Griffin and her coworkers need to clean approximately 47,000 pieces every year.

Thanks to the renovation, Griffin’s workspace is literally twice as efficient as before. She and her coworkers now have two glass washers, two autoclaves to sterilize equipment, two dry ovens and (thankfully) twice as much space.

Griffin has been around long enough—13 years—to fully appreciate such equipment. “In the old days,” she says with a laugh, “we had to use our hands.”

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