I started working in the Lombroso lab in 2006 as a summer research intern. Since it was my first experience conducting independent research in a lab, Paul astutely assigned me to work under a postdoc in his group. I still managed to temporarily break an incubator in my first week, but things improved as I learned my way around the bench. We worked on evaluating the local translation of STEP at synapses, using a DNA construct that we designed and synthesized that summer. Even though I was under the guidance of a postdoc, I spoke with Paul daily, and he frequently passed through the lab to chat and see how things were going. I enjoyed my time in the lab so much that I continued studying STEP during the following year, and this work evolved into my senior thesis project. Throughout the year, I returned to Yale weekly, either to steal samples or learn techniques from members of the lab. To this day, I continue to collaborate with the Lombroso group on determining STEP’s relevance in schizophrenia.
The lab is very well-suited for prospective students who are interested in acquiring skills that will be relevant in molecular bench research. Work on STEP represents an opportunity to become exposed to ‘real life’ basic scientific inquiry. More importantly, the Lombroso lab is a place that pushes students to learn about designing and executing good research and being critically evaluative of new findings. These skills will help you no matter what path you end up pursuing afterward. Paul worked with me to build a foundation of knowledge in neuroscience, which I still rely on heavily to this day. As is often the case, this means that hard work awaits anyone who is interested in being in such a privileged position. You will read plenty of research articles, prepare presentations on your work and be expected to contribute meaningfully to a project. But there is also pizza at Bar, summer cookouts, and the satisfaction that comes with making a new finding in the lab. The experience has provided me with incredible insight, and Paul has helped me to pursue a career that is suited for my particular interests.