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Katiannah Moise (she/her)

PhD Candidate in the Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences

Katiannah Moise (she/her)

All of the qualities that you currently possess have already prepared you to succeed in academia.”

Katiannah Moise is a PhD candidate in the Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences in the Feinberg School of Medicine. She is a member of the Arispe Lab, studying the role of Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signaling, flow, and microtubule dynamics in endothelial cell function and shape. From 2021 to 2024, Katiannah served as the president and chair of student life of the Chicago Graduate Student Association (CGSA). 

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience? 
My research focuses on how endothelial cells respond and adapt to mechanical forces and external cues from their environment, such as blood flow. Cells convert these signals to remodel the cytoskeleton, which is essential for maintaining cell shape, and they also activate various signaling pathways. I investigate how post-translational modifications in microtubules, which confer specialized functions to microtubules, regulate endothelial mechanotransduction. 

What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns of your career? 
There was a point in my project where I couldn't get some Knockout (KO) cell lines to survive. It took about 9 months of culturing and making various lentiviruses. I remember finally getting those cells confluent on a 6-well bottom plate, staining for my protein of interest. I finally saw the results I had been seeking for a year. I was so overwhelmed that I ran to my principal investigator’s (PI) lab, Dr. Arispe, and bawled in her arms with relief and joy. 

What is a mistake you have learned from in your career? 
Pursuing a PhD is very much like swimming in uncharted territories. One thing I learned was that relying too much on the literature can be stifling and prevent you from making your own interesting discoveries. As I got deeper into my work, I made some of the best progress playing around with different experiments and techniques. It resulted in some beautiful work that I am truly proud of. Being brave, and sometimes stubborn, can be a good thing in science. 

What books are on your bedside table? 
I really enjoy reading romance or horror novels. I really love how creative horror novels can be in creating worlds that are different from the ones we are currently in. This is the same reason I gravitate toward love stories. I am currently tackling a book called The Reformatory by Tananarive Due which is a historical fiction about children living in the Jim Crow era who encounter ghosts who passed away in the reformatory school they are sent to reside in. 

What did you originally want to be when you grew up? 
When I was younger, I used to be an avid drawer and had tons of filled sketchbooks. I fully expected to go to art school when I was older. In middle school, I learned about medical illustrators and then wanted to become one since it combined my love of biology and my skills for pencil sketching of the human body. These days, my art practice consists mainly of knitting and crocheting. 

What advice would you give your younger self or someone considering a similar path? 
All of the qualities that you currently possess have already prepared you to succeed in academia. Your boisterous loud voice, your strong sense of justice, your ability to gather people together are skills valuable in the field of research. It's unique and appreciated and should continue to be cultivated. 

Tell us about a time when things did not go as you planned, what did you learn? 
One of the biggest struggles I had in my PhD was time management. Preparing for my first few committee meetings was difficult and I never gave myself enough time; I was so focused on collecting data. After my second committee meeting, I realized it was just as important to collect data as it was to present it in a coherent matter. Once I realized that, the next ones went so smoothly, and I learned that sometimes less is more. 

Publish Date: June 4, 2024 

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