I joined the Lombroso Lab fall 2006 and liked it so much that I spent outrageous amounts of time there doing a BS/MS. Once I graduated in 2009, I couldn’t stop myself from continuing the research over the summer. I could think of no better way to spend my “break” time before grad school. When I first joined the lab, I began working with a postdoc, Pradeep, studying STEP’s local translation. As I matured scientifically, the lab helped my independence grow; as I strove to struggle and learn on my own, they always made it clear that they were right there if I needed help. Soon I began planning experiments according to a delightfully idiosyncratic time-table that enabled me to attend class during incubation periods. Then, the summer after junior year, I found myself in a lab in Belgium, experts in Fragile X, acting with Paul’s support and blessing as the Lombroso Liaison on the then nascent STEP-Fragile X project. The local translation of proteins in dendrites and spines is now known to be integral to the development of synaptic plasticity and its dysregulation (possibly via STEP) is thought to be involved in the cognitive deficits present in Fragile X Syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation.
The Lombroso Lab is one of the hidden jewels of Yale. Knowing that research is both intellectually and physically challenging, Paul has seen to it that the Lab is populated by researchers who are at the same time scientific wizards and incredibly fun, down to earth people and is himself genuinely supportive. From mashed potato and bacon pizza at BAR to smiles and jokes spilling over beakers throughout the day, the Lombroso Lab creates the balanced and supportive environment that I found ideal for attempting the intellectual feats necessary to grow as a scientist. Looking back, I am amazed at how much I learned in the Lombroso Lab. I entered with a summer’s skills and left with a few publications and a theoretical and practical grasp of my chunk of neuroscience. But more importantly, I also gained a STEP family. I still visit every time I am in town.