McKim Lab Postdoc featured in GSA blog

GSA's Spotlight on Undergraduate Research featured Sarah Radford, a Postdoctoral Associate in the McKim Lab.
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The impact of Sarah Radford's undergraduate research  

How did you become involved in research?              

The professor of my sophomore genetics course, Dr. Gooch, recognized that I was interested in the topic and suggested that I do research. At the time, I had no idea how research worked and had never heard of graduate school, but Dr. Gooch introduced me to Dr. Keeney, and that started my research career.

What was it like authoring and contributing to this paper?         

Because I was in a lab at a small liberal arts college, research did not progress quickly. I happened to be working in the lab at the time when the important discovery for this project was made, but many other undergraduates before me contributed, which is why the author list is long. Although we published after I left for graduate school, I wrote a large part of the introduction – it was from the introduction to my undergraduate thesis – so I ended up snagging the first author position.

What was the most interesting (or fun!) aspect of your time working on this project?  

I loved working in the lab from the first day. I liked the experiments and the puzzle-solving aspect. The best part for me was the amount of independence I had, despite being in a small undergraduate-driven lab. This has really influenced the way that I work with undergraduates in lab now.

How did working on this project influence what you’re doing now (if at all)?    

I have recently been using my undergraduate experience to do some yeast two-hybrid screening. I even pulled out my old “Keeney Laboratory Manual” for reference! But more than just laboratory experience, working on this project is the reason why I chose a career in research.

When this paper was ready for publication, I was already in graduate school. I asked my advisor, Dr. Jeff Sekelsky, what journal he thought we should submit to. He immediately suggested GENETICS, so I suggested that to Dr. Keeney. Since then, the largest part of my publication list consists of papers in GENETICS!


Radford, S. J., Boyle, M.L., Sheely, C.J., Graham, J., Haeusser, D.P., Zimmerman, & L., Keeney, J.B. (2004) Increase in Ty1 cDNA recombination in yeast sir4 mutant strains at high temperature. GENETICS 168 (1):89-101. doi: 10.1534/genetics.102.012708