#SciComm: Featuring Chloe from @chloe.the.scientist

Posted by Applied Biological Materials (abm) on February 4, 2022

We recognize science can seem difficult to young scientists, and we hope to raise awareness about people who make it fun and accessible to broader audiences through social media, #SciComm!


@chloe.the.scientist Portrait

We’d like to introduce Chloe from @chloe.the.scientist! Chloe is a 3rd-year PhD student in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Miami. She enjoys documenting her research journey through Instagram, hoping to educate others about science and emphasizing the importance of many topics including work-life balance and mental health!

In this interview, Chloe shares her story on how she decided to pursue a career in research and she provides thoughtful advice on how to approach obstacles in research, as well as methods on how to prevent stress and burnout due to working long hours in the lab!

Hi Chloe! Tell us a little about yourself! What inspired you to pursue a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology?

I’m a 3rd year Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Student 👩‍🔬 at the University of Miami. I first became interested in science as a senior in high school when I had the opportunity to volunteer in a cancer biology lab at the University of Minnesota. I loved doing hands-on research, and it heavily influenced my decision to matriculate to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I immediately became involved in research.

I tried out a number of different research areas, from working for the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center 🐵 to bacteriology 🦠to heart arrythmia 💓to developmental biology 🐤. Throughout all these research opportunities, I honed my research passion to cell biology and cell mechanisms 🧫. As I was wrapping up my senior year of undergraduate university and exploring career paths, everything kept leading back to doing independent research. And, after searching and applying for graduate school, I received a position at the University of Miami to do exactly that, research 🔬!

@chloe.the.scientist Portrait

You mention in your Instagram posts that you work on amyloid body research! What are amyloid bodies and why are they such an important area of research? What is your particular research focus?

Amyloid bodies are clumps of immobile, insoluble proteins that appear in the nucleoli of cells when they become stressed. Cells can become stressed from extracellular stressors including thermal stress (heat) 🔥 or acidosis (low pH) 🍋. Amyloid bodies accumulate proteins during stress, preventing these proteins from becoming damaged. Amyloid bodies are seen at the center of the tumor microenvironment in hypoxic cancer cells and are suggested to be involved with tumor cell dormancy. Additionally, studying Amyloid bodies is a physiological way to study Amyloids, a name given to protein conformations that are immobile, insoluble beta-sheets and characteristically stain with Amyloid dyes (i.e. Congo Red, Thioflavin-T).

My particular research focus is to understand how Amyloid bodies revert once stress subsides. The lab I work in has documented much of the processes of Amyloidogenesis and that cells are able to fully recover when no longer stressed, but the characterization and mechanism of this reversal process remains elusive.

@chloe.the.scientist Portrait

It's common to encounter many challenges and obstacles in research. What's one of the biggest setbacks that you've encountered and how were you able to pick yourself up from it after?

One of the biggest setbacks I have had thus far is working on a variation of a western blot, called a Native PAGE, for a couple months to look at protein conformations only to find out the technique wouldn’t work in my system. It was extremely disheartening 😞 realizing I’d spent months optimizing a technique that would not be useful for my project, but I reminded myself that there are many other techniques I’ve learned over the past few years that, while not directly used in my project, have helped me discover how to learn more effectively and efficiently 🤩.

All of my setbacks in graduate school I try to remember that it weren’t all for nothing.

Even when an experiment doesn’t work or I have to stop doing a technique, I still learned valuable skills and information I wouldn’t otherwise know 😊.

@chloe.the.scientist Portrait

You've posted about burnout and that feeling of guilt that you haven't done enough! What's the longest you've ever spent at the lab? Do you have a go-to tip on how to avoid burnout?

I really try not to work too long of days, which can cause me to burnout quickly. The longest I’ve been in lab in one day working straight is 12 hours, or a week of 11 hour days 😮, but I almost always need to follow this by working less the next few days. The best advice I have to avoid burnout is to keep a good work-life balance !

Find hobbies you enjoy, make friends, or even better make friends doing the hobbies you love.

When I first came to grad school, I joined a number of organizations to make friends 🤝, some of whom have become my closest friends and biggest supporters when I’m feeling low 🥰. This all being said, burnout will almost inevitably happen even if you think you know how to avoid it. There will be low points in grad school you can’t get around, experiments failing inexplicably, long hours or working on weekends 📅. And when I get to the point of burnout, I think it’s so important to remember why you are doing what you are doing, the bigger picture of why your research excites you 💪. This always helps cheer me up again 😀!

@chloe.the.scientist Portrait

You mention in one of your posts that when you were an undergraduate student, you weren't sure what you wanted to do - many science students feel this way! If you were able to go back in time and give your undergraduate self advice, what would you say?

I would’ve told myself to be more confident in what I love! I’ve always loved science and science research 🧪, as I said earlier, but I never felt like the smartest kid in class so I thought I wasn’t ‘worthy’ of being in the upper level science classes or applying to graduate school 🏫. There are plenty of times I never talked up in class or didn’t apply for an internship because I thought I didn’t have a chance compared to my peers. But now, coming to graduate school, I realize so many of my peers have the exact same thoughts!

You don’t need to be the best or the brightest to do what you love; 90% of success is just the dedication to learn.

And everything will work out as long as you do what makes you happy.

@chloe.the.scientist Portrait


Outside of research, what are some of your favourite hobbies?

My favorite hobbies are baking (I’d love to be on Great British Bake Off) 🥧, reading (science-fiction and fantasy are my favorite genres) 📚, and sight-seeing (before the epidemic I loved to travel to other countries) ✈️!

What is your favourite and least favourite lab technique?

My favorite technique is immunofluorescence imaging; I love being able to see what is going on in the cells 🧫! My least favorite technique so far is probably SDD-AGE because it takes a lot of time and often the end result doesn’t look very pretty 😥

You're currently studying at the University of Miami located in Florida known as the sunshine state! What is your favourite thing to do to cool off on a hot, sunny day?

Definitely go to the beach or the pool ⛱️! One of the highlights of living in Miami is living in a place people go to vacation, which makes it easy to find activities to do and remind myself to keep a work-life balance in graduate school.

We love the creative video of you dancing like the equipment in your research lab! What would be your go-to lab dance move at a party in Miami?

Thank you! I’m not much of a dancer, unfortunately, but I love to disco, especially to all music ABBA 💃.

What is your favourite food to eat after a long day at the lab?

I love to recharge with a big bowl of pasta 🍝. My personal favorite is pasta with homemade pesto. And then finish off the meal with some chocolate 🍫.

Thank you Chloe for participating in our interview for our #SciComm series! Learning about your experiences has definitely given us a lot more insight about pursuing a career in research. We wish you the best of luck with finishing up your PhD and the next chapter of your research career! You can follow Choe on Instagram @chloe.the.scientist!

chloe.the.scientist Illustration

If you'd like to be featured on our #SciComm series, post a comment on our instagram channel,@abm_good, or any of our social media channels.

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