DNALC Meet a Scientist!

Short virtual lectures for high school and public audiences are your chance to learn about research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory!

Fans of the DNA Learning Center all have one thing in common, a fascination with science and all things DNA! With some of our in-person activities limited, we have created an opportunity to learn that is informative and fits into any schedule. These virtual events will be 30 minutes with time for your questions. Each month we will feature CSHL scientists who will share their stories with you, including:

  • What got them interested in science?
  • What are the most exciting things they are working on?
  • What challenges did they overcome to achieve a career in research?

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is consistently ranked one of the world’s premiere research institutions. Join us for this opportunity to learn and be inspired by world-class scientists. 


  • These events are free.
  • All talks are 30 minutes with time for questions.
  • Talks are open to (and appropriate for) high school audiences and the public.
  • Once registered, you will be provided a Zoom link

Meet Dr. Jeremy C. Borniger

Assistant Professor, Cancer Center Member, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
M.D., Ph.D., Ohio State University

January 20, 2022 at 4:00 pm (Thursday)

How the brain surveils the body during health and disease

Patients with cancer frequently experience debilitating symptoms that can impair quality of life and reduce odds of survival. These include drastic changes in appetite, sleep/wake cycles, cognitive function, and pain, among others. Our lab aims to uncover mechanistic interactions between the brain and cancer that drive these phenomena. Reciprocally, we investigate how manipulation of specific brain circuits influences cancer processes in the body.

Dr. Jeremy C. Borniger

Meet Dr. Corina Amor

CSHL Fellow, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
M.D., Ph.D., Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

February 17, 2022 at 4:00 pm (Thursday)

As we age our body accumulates damaged “senescent” cells that our immune system is no longer able to effectively eliminate. Senescent cells are responsible for the development of aging and age-related diseases like cancer or fibrosis. My group studies how senescent cells evade the immune system thereby identifying new therapeutic approaches.

Dr. Corina Amor
Corina Amor, M.D., Ph.D., CSHL Fellow, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Meet Dr. Jessica Tollkuhn

Assistant Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

March 17, 2022 at 4:00 pm (Thursday)

I am interested in how transient events during development program neurons to take on a specific identity and function. More specifically, I am studying how estrogen and testosterone generate sex differences in the brain and behavior.

Dr. Jessica Tollkuhn
Jessica Tollkuhn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Meet Dr. Ullas Pedmale

Assistant Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Ph.D., University of Missouri, Columbia

April 21, 2022 at 4:00 pm (Thursday)

Unlike animals, plants neither have specific organs that see or hear various stimuli, yet, plants are sensitive to their surrounding environment and modify their development according to various external signals. My lab studies how the environment of a plant modulates its growth and development. Understanding environmental control of growth will have far-reaching implications for agriculture, energy production, and many other human activities.

Dr. Ullas Pedmale
Ullas Pedmale, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Past Events

Meet Dr. Christopher Vakoc

Professor, Cancer Center Program Co-Leader, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

December: Meet Dr. Christopher Vakoc

December 16, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Inventing new cancer medicines

Cancer cells achieve their pathogenicity by changing which genes are on and off. To maintain these changes in gene expression, cancer cells rely on proteins that interact with DNA or modify chromatin. My group investigates how such factors sustain the aberrant capabilities of cancer cells, thereby identifying new therapeutic targets.

Dr. Christopher Vakoc

November: Meet Dr. Doreen Ware

November 18, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Maize a tale of two genomes–how plants manage fluid genomes to adapt and evolve

When we think of evolution, we often think about physical changes, like a plant developing broader leaves to collect more solar energy. Such evolution actually occurs within the plant’s DNA. I am using computational analysis and modeling to visualize how plant genomes have evolved over time, particularly those of staple crops. We are learning from this work to improve the range and yield of modern plants.

Dr. Doreen Ware, Adjunct Professor, USDA-ARS, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Ph.D., Ohio State University

June: Meet Dr. Peter Koo

June 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Understanding gene regulation through deep learning

Deep learning is a powerful approach to find patterns in DNA and relate them to regulatory functions, such as transcription factor binding or mRNA expression. However, it remains difficult to understand why they make any given prediction, which has earned them a reputation as a black box. My lab develops methods to interrogate deep learning models to access information they learn, with the broader aim of elucidating new insights into biological processes.

Dr. Peter Koo,
Assistant Professor, Cancer Center Member, CSHL

May: Meet Dr. Hannah Meyer
May 13, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Educating the immune system - how T cells distinguish friend from foe

The thymus plays a key role in teaching T cells the ability to distinguish friend from foe. Flaws in the teaching process can lead to autoimmune diseases or immunodeficiency. We use computational and experimental methods to study the teaching process across the thymus and learn principles about thymus physiology that lead to insights about immune-related diseases.

Dr. Hannah Meyer,
CSHL Fellow, Cancer Center Member, CSHL

April: Meet Alexa Pagliaro
April 8, 2021 at 4:00 pm

How maternal experience shapes brain activity

In the Shea Lab, we study the neural circuitry that supports social communication and behavior. The onset of maternal experience and the communication between a mother and her offspring provide an ideal context in which to probe these topics. Newborn mouse pups produce ultrasonic vocalizations when they are separated from their litter, and mothers learn to respond to these cries by retrieving the pups back to the nest. We study the changes in brain activity that underlie this form of learning, and how certain disruptions to these changes impair pup gathering behavior in a mouse model of Rett Syndrome.

Alexa Pagliaro,
Graduate Student in the Shea Lab, CSHL

March: Meet Miriam Ferrer Gonzalez
March 11, 2021 at 4:00 pm

The whole-body response to cancer

I’m interested in studying the interactions between the tumor and the body in cancer. During cancer progression, we observe behaviors such as reduced food intake in the context of irreversible weight loss, as well as metabolic changes in the liver and the immune system. We are aiming to identify and characterize alterations in the whole body that are induced by cancer, and understand the combined effects of candidate cancer treatments on the tumor and the body.

Miriam Ferrer Gonzalez,
Ph.D. Student in Residence, Janowitz Lab, CSHL

Meet Dr. Lloyd Trotman
January 13, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Traveling in Organs with Cancer

My lab is trying to understand what makes cancer a deadly disease. Scientists have found that the most dangerous event of cancer is the moment when cells start to move away from a tumor and travel to other sites. To understand this process, we try to make it visible, in 3D. We hope that by seeing these events in full detail, we can begin to think about the right questions to fight deadly cancers. If we fail, at least we'll have some pretty pictures and breathtaking movies.

Dr. Lloyd Trotman,
Professor, Cancer Center Deputy Director of Education and Diversity, CSHL

Meet Dr. Camila dos Santos
December 10, 2020 at 4:00 pm

The impact of pregnancy on breast cancer risk

My lab uses animal models and genomic analysis to study alterations to genes that guide normal breast development. Using this approach we found that transitions through pregnancy can block breast cancer development. In fact, an early age of pregnancy in humans has also been correlated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer in women. By studying the signals that control milk production and cellular communication during pregnancy, we have discovered new ways to stop breast cancer cells development, and those that enhance breast oncogenesis independently of pregnancy.

Dr. Camila dos Santos,
Associate Professor, Cancer Center Member, CSHL

Meet Dr. David Jackson
November 19, 2020 at 4:00 pm

How studying stem cells in plants can improve crop yields

My lab studies genes and signals in cells that regulate the growth and shape of plants. We have discovered several genes that control plant architecture by exerting an influence on stem cells. By identifying the genes that control the number of stem cells in corn plants, for example, we’ve discovered a means of boosting the yield of that vital staple.

Dr. David Jackson, Professor, CSHL