Tatyana Fedotova, a fifth-year Upstate graduate student in Pharmacology, was among 13 young scientists from across the globe selected to give oral podium presentations at the prestigious international Gordon Research Conferences in Ventura, Calif.
Tatyana, who works in the lab of Richard Wojcikiewicz, PhD, spoke about her discovery of a novel function of a protein complex, and its potential for developing treatments for cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and obesity.
She was also selected from among 400 applicants to receive one of three travel awards from the Gordon organization, a not-for-profit that hosts large-scale discussions of scientific research.
Shortly before her trip to California in March, Tatyana gave a shorter presentation on her project at Upstate’s Student Research Day. All student presentation videos are here.
Tatyana’s research focuses on autophagy (cell degradation, or breakdown) and the role of an endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein complex in that process. She has worked on this project for more than two years, including an entire year that yielded no results in the lab.
“We had a list of 10 hypotheses and eliminated nine of them,” Tatyana said. When her last hypothesis yielded data and she was finally able to show Wojcikiewicz, her principal investigator, “it was the best day ever.”
Tatyana credits Wojcikiewicz, professor of pharmacology, for much of her success.
“It’s important for researchers to have some freedom,” Tatyana said. “Richard is great. He guides you when you need guidance, and lets you try out your own ideas. I’m very fortunate to be able to work with him. Since I’ve been here, several of his students have gone on to top post-doctoral positions.”
A crucial part of being a biomedical sciences graduate student is the opportunity to travel to scientific conferences, and Tatyana estimates she’s been to more than a half dozen of them. “Richard thinks it’s very important not only to do the science but to communicate and network with others,” she said.
Tatyana also said she’s able to take advantage of Upstate’s core research facilities to help make her project proceed efficiently. She plans to defend her PhD thesis later this year.