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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Meet Our Postdoctoral Fellows

Elizabeth T. Ables, BMB GRADUATE 2012, Postdoctoral Fellow

ablesElizabeth completed a post-doctoral fellowship in BMB in 2012. Under the direction of Dr. Daniela Drummond-Barbosa, she used genetic and cell biological approaches in the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, to identify key roles for steroid hormones in the control of germline stem cell self-renewal and cell cycle control. Elizabeth started her own lab at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, NC, in January 2013, where she is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. Since starting her lab, Elizabeth received the March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award and a NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award to support her research on the roles of nuclear hormone receptors in Drosophila germ cells. She is also the recipient of the ECU Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award for her work with Masters students. Elizabeth’s research lab consists of undergraduate, Masters, and Doctoral students who are building on research Elizabeth started in Dr. Drummond-Barbosa’s lab, focused on elucidation of the targets of nuclear hormone receptors in oogenesis.

“Joining Daniela’s lab was one of the best career moves I have made,” she commented. “The BMB environment was a fantastic introduction to reproductive biology, and I have become immersed in that field as an independent scientist. Daniela always encouraged me to aim high. This forced me to push past my perceived limits, and made me a stronger scientist and a better person in the process. I started in Daniela’s lab while she was at Vanderbilt University, and helped her move the lab to BMB. While that was one of the most challenging periods in my fellowship, it was also perhaps the best training I could have gotten for setting up my own lab! I am so grateful for Daniela’s mentorship. Her advice about balancing my time, and her continued support of my career, has been invaluable to me.”

In addition to training students in research, Elizabeth is also sought-out for her career advice, particularly for female undergraduates from area rural communities. “Coming from a rural background, I have always felt like ECU was the right place for me, because my early life experiences are so similar to those of my students from eastern North Carolina. It is wonderful to see my students push past their own perceived limits and achieve their career goals. This is what really motivates me to work hard and be successful.”


alissaWhat drove you to Johns Hopkins School of Public Health?
For my postdoctoral training, I wanted to reconnect with my interest in how environmental factors impact reproductive health and early development. In addition to the suitable research focus provided by Dr. Daniela Drummond-Barbosa, I knew that the scientifically and professionally diverse environment of the School of Public Health would provide many new learning opportunities.

What is your field of research?
The Drummond-Barbosa Lab is elucidating how ovarian stem cells are regulated by diet using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. Toward this goal, I am examining how inter-organ communication modulates adult stem cell lineages in response to dietary changes.

What do you find challenging?
The number of seminars and journal clubs can be a blessing and a curse. While it may be tempting to attend the majority of those events, it is important to choose the most interesting/appropriate for you.

What are the highlights of the program?
The scientific rigor ensures that everyone is on top of their game. Also, the scientific diversity provides exposure to a wide range of topics.

What do you do in your "down time" to relax?
When I am not spending time with my daughter, I enjoy reading, shopping and trying different cuisines.

Looking into the future, after completion of the program what will you take with you? (Goals, etc.)
The independent and critical thinking skills obtained upon completion of my postdoctoral training in this department will prepare me for becoming a Principal Investigator guiding innovative research on the impact that environmental changes may have on the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling reproduction and early development. Interacting with graduate students, faculty and staff not only provides mentoring and networking opportunities, but will also build long-lasting relationships that I believe will enhance my own career development.

What advice would you give a future BMB applicant?
Take advantage of the wealth of resources at the School of Public Health and surrounding JHU institutions.