We invite you to get to know Sarah Meadows, a UAHuntsville biology graduate who works as a lab technician at HudsonAlpha. In 2001, Meadows left the Rocket City in search of greener professional pastures. Meadows eventually returned to North Alabama, where she took advantage of new biotech career opportunities available in her hometown.
Q: What drew you to HudsonAlpha?
I accepted a great position as a technician in the Myers lab in January of 2011. I grew up in Huntsville, but until recently the city didn't have many opportunities in biological sciences, so I found myself working elsewhere in the country.
I remember how excited I was to learn about the new jobs HudsonAlpha had created and the talent the institute was attracting to the area. Huntsville deserves this!
Q: What is your research area?
I work with Dr. Flo Pauli Behn managing projects we have with outside collaborators, mainly at New York University and Columbia University. Their research is quite varied and applicable to many diseases. One specific project is on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gherig's disease, which is a degenerative disease of motor neurons. People with ALS have progressive deterioration affecting muscle function, speaking, swallowing and breathing.
Q: Why is this research important?
While I don't have a personal connection with ALS, I understand how devastating it can be. An estimated 30,000 Americans live with the disease and the average life expectancy is two to five years from diagnosis. I am grateful that I can contribute in a meaningful way to research about this and other disease states. That's why I love being a technician with a broad range of skills. There is always something new to learn or do at the bench or at the computer.
Q: What is unique about your role?
My position is unique in that I am not only a technician, but also have the challenge of making sure the collaborations between our lab and other labs are the most efficient they can be and that the data is obtained using the best, most consistent, cost-effective tools.
I like researching new techniques and developing plans of action with a wide variety of investigators.
Q: Did any past experiences help prepare you for your work here?
Absolutely. I was a techician for two different investigators with very different interests. In a stroke of luck, the hierarchy of both laboratories was non-traditional and both investigators gave me opportunities to give talks, help write articles and lead my own projects. While only some of these projects involved genomics, all of them have been helpful, interesting and enriching, and ultimately led to my current position.
Q: What sparked your passion for science?
My parents, both engineers in Huntsville, fostered my interests in a wide variety of scientific fields. They also exposed me to things I hated or thought were boring at the time, but grew to appreciate later. I like the way scientists think and reason. I really get excited when fields overlap and science is applied in a cool way to another field of interest. Biology in its own right has the complexity and depth of art, but at times the precision of mathematics. That's what makes it beautiful; it is never dull, never predictable and never complete.
Q: What do you like best about working at HudsonAlpha?
I really like the people here. In addition to being really kind, everyone has an attitude of working together instead of in competition with each other, and that makes for a refreshing and fun place to work.
Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people would be surprised to know.
I just got a very unruly puppy, Rose, that I am looking forward to training!