Picture taken by Erin O’Flaherty
Lilian Kabeche, Ph.D. Candidate
The goal of The Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) from the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB) is to increase and support underrepresented scientists by promoting their professional career with annual travel fellowships from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Thereafter, they attend the annual ASCB meeting with the purpose of promoting scientific communication and mentoring. Students who are selected to receive this fellowship, present novel scientific findings and compete at the MAC poster competition. This past year, almost 100 recipients participated at the poster competition and a total of nine awards were given to the best poster presenters.
One of these nine recognized is fifth year PhD. Candidate in molecular and cellular biology miss Lilian Kabeche from Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. Lilian Kabeche is a John H. Copenhaver and William H. Thomas fellow, a member of the ASCB, and former NIH research grant recipient.
Among her achievements include participating in research talks, her most recent was at the annual ASCB meeting for one of the special interest sub-groups, “Aneuploidy: Causes and Consequences” at the ASCB annual meeting. The title of her talk “Cyclin A degradation controls the transition from prometaphase to metaphase in vertebrate cells,” was presented to an international audience that included students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty.
Miss Kabeche’s interest in science started while in high school, and she attributes her love to science and enthusiasm to her teachers, who became her mentors, as she explains. “It was my high school biotechnology and chemistry teachers that really opened my love for science. I still remember the passion that my chemistry teacher exuded. He loved science so much.”
She also explains the benefit of having great teachers and mentors who were passionate about teaching very basic biological topics by using cues or models. As miss Kabeche indicated, “I still remember the way he taught us DNA transcription and translation.” She explains, “We had to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So one person at the end was the DNA template, and read the message to the next person, who was the mRNA, then that was translated into the actual protein by another student, who made the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. However, mutations can occur and the message was no longer perfect! This got really messy, but to me, it was an amazing experience!”
Her great experience in high school and the enthusiasm that her professors had about science was what lead her to study microbiology and Immunology at the University of Miami. Years later she decided to pursue a PhD in Cell Biology in Dr. Duane Compton’s lab at Dartmouth College.
Like many students Miss Kabeche had some challenges such as fear and doubt. She explains, “Difficulties and challenges are what you make of them. I think that the biggest challenge for me in my PhD has been myself…there have been some moments of doubt and fear: a couple of times feeling a little self-doubt. Asking if I am really smart enough to do this. But I've found that, that's why you have a giant support system.”
Miss Kabeche explains how fortunate she is on having a great family who has supported her and guided her throughout her career. “My family has been with me every step of the time... They listen and support and tell me that I can do it, and they are a giant pillar of strength that have made any challenge that I have had into nothing more than a minute thing.”
Also she emphasized the importance of having a great mentor and lab members in her graduate career. Someone she provided as an example is her graduate advisor/principal investigator (PI) Dr. Duane Compton. “He has been an amazing PI through out my PhD. He has taught me to be patient, and meticulous with my work. He has always been there when I have felt self-doubt with only assurance and amazing amounts of confidence in me. My lab is amazing whenever I've been kind of sad because things are working like I want them too, they are there with a smile.”
Miss Lilian Kabeche’s passion toward science led her to promote science by recruiting students into her graduate program. One of her first recruiters was her sister Ruth, who works two labs away from her and has also been a great supporter.
Ultimately she is grateful for having great teachers who kept her motivated and interested in research and science. She compares her interest and passion to science to a puzzle. In her own words, “Science is like a puzzle and with each experiment, you make a new puzzle piece that you can place, eventually you have a beautiful picture. I really like that about science. There is a piece of you in every puzzle piece.”
Miss Kabeche hopes to continue doing research as well as stay involved in promoting science in the hopes that her achievements will bring more students to pursue a career in science.