A research project led by Lei Mi-Mi, a PhD student entering her fifth year in the College of Graduate Studies, has made the cover of a prestigious scientific journal.
Lei, a student in the lab of David Pruyne, PhD, assistant professor of Cell & Developmental Biology, is first-author of the cover article in the July 9 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, “Formins’ Muscle Building Routine.”
Using a worm model, Lei pinpointed the location of two formins that act as key proteins involved in muscle movement, and showed how a reduction or absence of those proteins stunted muscle growth.
Her project is believed to be the first demonstration in a living organism that shows how formins help organize muscle structure. Lei suggests that her findings in the worm may hold true in other species as well, which could lead to further research and eventual clinical applications.
“It’s of the utmost importance to have a decent publication record in this highly competitive day and time,” Lei said. “It’s more often than not the yardstick to measure our success. And publishing peer-reviewed articles is still the main way of communicating in science, especially for the academic researchers.”
David Pruyne, Lei’s Principal Investigator, said publishing research results is important for graduate students in many ways.
“It gives them experience in expressing their thoughts clearly and succinctly,” Pruyne said. “But it is also one of the primary ways for students to introduce themselves to the wider science community. Their published work shows other scientists, including potential future employers and colleagues, the type and quality of work a student can do.”
Lei said making the cover of a prestigious journal has motivated her to work even harder.
“I came from Myanmar, still a developing Southeast Asian country where basic research is something hard to understand, to the U.S. with the hope of becoming a scientist,” she said. “I’m really happy to have a first-authored paper. It took about 2 1/2 years to generate enough data for this paper, but the hard work has finally paid off!”