Jeremiah Yee (x ’19, Bradfield Lab) is currently finishing up his dissertation for a defense before the end of the semester. He took some time out of writing and job hunting to speak with Rob Lipinski about the draws of the MET Program.
Where are you from and what attracted you to the UW MET program?
I am from Davis, California. I was attracted to the MET program because of the wide variety of research. My undergraduate studies included both molecular and environmental sciences and at the time of applying I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Attending UW MET gave me the opportunity to pursue either field.
Describe the focus of your thesis research project.
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is classically known for its high affinity recognition of a variety of structurally related environmental contaminants; including certain halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons such as TCDD (considered to be the most toxic man-made substance) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Physiologically, the AHR plays a central role in the adaptive metabolism of xenobiotics, the toxicity of halogenated-dioxins, and in the normal development of certain endothelia and lymphocytes. My research involves examining the circumstances that result in the different endpoints.
What do you consider as your most interesting or exciting finding to-date?
I generated a mouse that the literature suggests would not be viable. Our lab has been able to use this mouse learn about endogenous AHR signaling as well as AHR-mediated toxicity.
What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment or rewarding experience in graduate school?
I established a model in our lab. Our lab had traditionally used TCDD as a model compound. We have largely moved to using a nontoxic compound that acts more like polycyclic armomatic hydrocarbons act like. It’s always satisfying to see other people in the lab use it.
What is your favorite outside-of-lab hobby?
I enjoy spending time outside outdoors hiking, biking and playing ultimate frisbee. Yes, I still do these things even in the freezing midwest winter.
Looking back, what advice would you give to a student who is just starting graduate school?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions; they are always invited. Graduate school should be a fun time. Find a hobby or something to do outside of research/teaching.
What has been your favorite part of living in Madison?
Madison in ideal because it has the appeal of a city but is still small enough that normal life isn’t a hassle. There are many shows that come into town as well as a diverse selection of restaurants. At the same time Madison is small enough that you can get from one end to the other within 30 minutes so location of things is never an issue. Also, there are many parks in Madison that I frequent with my dog and wife.
What are your post-graduation career plans?
In the immediate future I plan on doing a more technology based post-doc. After that I would like to work in the public sector continuing to do research whether that be academia or government.
Looking back, what is your best memory from graduate school?
An obvious answer is I got married, but in terms of actual graduate school my best memories stem from interactions with the members of my lab. They have helped me in my research immensely while keeping things light-hearted and fun at the same time.