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Student Perspective

Motivated students, great science

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An interview with Carlos Rico

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Can you tell me a bit about your research?

I am looking at the interactions of two proteins that are located in the plasma membrane and are very important for organ development and fighting disease. We also know that one or possibly both are involved in cancer metastasis. There have been reports that cells tend to metastasize more if these two proteins interact. We are using single molecule microscopy to determine if this interaction does happen in cells, and if it does, the mechanism by which it happens.

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What is it like working in labs at two different institutions?

I am working on this project with Tom Sakmar at Rockefeller and Scott Blanchard at WCMC and it has worked out very well. Initially, I have mainly been working in Tom’s lab because I am still developing methods. Later, when I have all of the preliminary results, I will start doing more work with Scott. I am glad to have had the opportunity to work with both of them because they are very different in how they manage their labs and how they interact with students and I like having the contrast. And, I will definitely say that having a collaborative project in two labs gave me a better opportunity to win my NSF Fellowship.

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Do you think students have a lot of publishing opportunities in the TPCB program?

I think it is very true, actually, for two reasons. One of them is the quality of the students. They are very motivated. I haven’t met anyone in the program who doesn’t like what they are doing. Everyone here comes to succeed and I really think having this mentality helps you push your work forward and get a lot of things done. The second thing is that we have really great faculty in TPCB. They are very supportive of the students and they are doing great science. The combination of these factors provides an environment in which to do great work and publish a lot.

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You were Co-Chair of the Student Organizing Committee for the Recruiting Open House. What do you tell candidates about life at TPCB?

First of all the graduate housing is wonderful; it is in a great location. I love my neighborhood, I love the proximity of the housing next to the university, it is very, very nice. Some students are excited about living in New York and some are nervous, and think it will be too fast track. But it isn’t really true. You get to choose your own schedule, how many hours you want to work, and that freedom lets you choose your lifestyle. In New York you can always find something to do, from going to museums, to hiking to going to a nightclub. New York gives you so many opportunities.