瓦莱丽·赖斯95年
2023年7月8日

属于这里

加州大学伯克利分校, 12岁的Aaron 乔伊纳正在研究两种神经退行性疾病的蛋白质结构, 包括肌萎缩性侧索硬化症. 去年秋天,他致力于这项工作,帮助年轻的有色人种科学家在自己的领域找到家的感觉,这为他赢得了伯洛伊特大学的重大荣誉.

作为一个在南伯洛伊特长大的高中生, structural biologist Aaron 乔伊纳’12 wasn’t initially sure 贝洛伊特 was right for him. He wanted to “go far away” to college 和 see the world beyond Southern Wisconsin. 其次,他已经在伯洛伊特大学的校园里呆了很长时间,参加了当地的一个分会 向上的束缚 while on the cusp of being a first-generation college student. 然后, among the many scholarship offers he had to choose from, 他在伯洛伊特大学获得了全额学费.

“I was grateful to have the opportunity to attend university 更多的 than anything else, but I was slightly unsure whether I was making the right decision to stay so close to home,他说. “I ended up absolutely loving every minute of my time at 贝洛伊特.”

一到学校,乔伊纳就加入了. He played intramural frisbee, basketball, 和 volleyball, 和 participated in 田径队他担任了两年的队长. He was also involved with student government 和 Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, 为仁人家园做志愿者, 和 在国外学习 在西班牙. All of this was on top of being as pre-med as one can be at a liberal arts college.

“它教会了我很多很好的时间管理技巧,让我能够同时处理很多事情而不让任何事情掉队,他说. 从那时起,他作为一名研究科学家开始了成功的职业生涯,并获得了博士学位.D. 他于2020年从康奈尔大学毕业,现在加州大学伯克利分校担任博士后研究员. 2022年秋天,他获得了伯洛伊特校友会的最高荣誉:青年校友奖.

有机 化学 教授 劳拉有土豆的 was one of 乔伊纳’s 贝洛伊特 academic advisors 和 remembers him with vivid fondness. “He st和s out in my mind as one of those students who was motivated, but also really kind 和 thoughtful 和 just a delight to spend time with,她说。. 有一天,他出现在她的办公室门口,端着一盘她最喜欢的糖霜饼干. 她补充说,他从第一代大学生到成功的科学家的轨迹令人印象深刻. “他开创了自己的道路,现在作为一名科学家和一名人类正在做着伟大的事情, 他在培训和指导其他第一代学生和有色人种学生方面做了强有力的宣传工作,她说。.

M.D. or not to M.D.

在肯塔基州路易斯维尔大学医学院的暑期预备课程中他在贝洛伊特大学读了二年级, 乔伊纳 got to see what it was really like to be a physician, 这是他的家人鼓励他从事的职业.

He was able to shadow doctors 和 learn the nitty gritty details of practicing medicine. Immediately after that program, he went on a semester abroad in Alicante, Spain. “The timing of those two things was quite critical,他说. “I had spent the summer figuring out what it would mean to be a physician, 和 then I was away from external influences — family, 朋友, 预期, 我不得不独自坐下来反思.正是在那里,他意识到成为一名真正的医生——“不是电视版的”——并不适合他.

但直到他在伯洛伊特大学的最后一个学期,在一个职业咨询日,他才发现自己有可能从事生物研究——获得资助的研究生学位. 下水前总要先试水, 在伯洛伊特大学毕业后, 乔伊纳在巴拿马城的史密森尼热带研究所开始了为期六个月的研究实习, 巴拿马. It solidified his desire to pursue a career in scientific research.

归属感

When he started the graduate program in bio化学, 分子, 康奈尔大学的细胞生物学教授, 乔伊纳, 谁是黑人?, 他很快意识到自己属于极端少数派. “I would look around in my classes the first few years 和 be like, ‘Oh, 我是这个教室里唯一的黑人学生,’”他说. “当然,这让我想知道:‘我属于这里吗? 他们为什么邀请我参加这个项目?’”

He knew he wanted things to change at the school, for himself 和 future students of color. “不得不问这些问题会削弱你的信心,像乌云一样压在你身上,总是让你陷入困境,他说. “即使它只占你脑力的5%到10%, 当你可以花时间思考你的研究问题或其他更有成效的事情时,这些时间就加起来了.”

Over time he met other students who felt the same way. 他说:“我们有自己的小临界质量,对环境进行鼓动和制造噪音。. They were joined by a supportive supervisor 和 other allies. “I was able to build a community around trying to improve the environment so future Ph.D. 学生们不会有我那样的感受,也不会克服我必须克服的障碍,他说. 他还与纽约的科学技术入门计划(STEP)合作,为缺乏服务的高中生启动了一个影子计划,以了解高等教育和科学研究的职业.

在某一时刻, 乔伊纳在“PhDivas播客”上听到了一集关于冒名顶替综合症的内容——这是他在康奈尔大学一直在努力解决的问题. “The show reframed it in a way that changed it completely for me,乔伊纳说。. “Instead of questioning whether you belong 和 whether you fit into the system, 记住我们国家有很多制度, 包括学术界, 是故意排斥有色人种的吗. 而不是质疑你是否适合, think of yourself as a spy who has infiltrated this system, 你正在学习尽可能多的信息,以导航和生存,并将其传递给其他人. 那个移码对我很有帮助.”

In 2020, 他毕业于康奈尔大学,获得生物化学博士学位,并获得院长优秀学者和模范服务奖, 在其他荣誉中. In 2022, he was selected as one of 25 Hanna Gray Fellows by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a fellowship designed to support exceptional 和 diverse leaders in biomedical research.

一个复杂的问题

亚伦工匠的12 去年秋天,乔伊纳获得了伯洛伊特学院校友会颁发的2022年青年校友奖. 这个奖项, 给一位校友庆祝十年聚会, 表彰他作为研究科学家的职业生涯,以及他为未来有色人种科学家铺平道路的决心.
图片来源:Alison Yin

最终与乔伊纳对话的领域是结构生物学——研究生物分子是如何形成的. “在我的脑海里,这是一个有意义的领域,”他说. Since 2021, 乔伊纳 has been a post-doc in the Hurley Lab at UC Berkeley. “我想看看蛋白质是什么样子的, 它是如何构建的, 和 how its structure allows it to do a specific job inside of a cell,乔伊纳说。.

了解健康细胞在微观层面上的功能可以帮助我们理解当人体宏观出现问题时会发生什么. The field is growing in two areas, each informing the other. One is observing how proteins interact with each other in groups. “We’ve been capturing larger 和 larger complexes of proteins, [问]:“当这些蛋白质聚集在一起执行任务时,它们的结构是什么? And how does the way that they come together allow them to do their job?’”乔伊纳说.

另一个方向是观察其原生生态系统中蛋白质的复杂性. Thanks to recent advances in the cameras used to capture images, proteins no longer need to be removed 和 studied in a test tube, but rather can be observed within cells where they normally reside.

乔伊纳的工作重点是与两种神经退行性疾病——肌萎缩性侧索硬化症(ALS或卢伽雷氏病)和额颞叶痴呆(FTD)有关的三种蛋白质。, the disease the actor Bruce Willis was recently diagnosed with.

“我目前的工作是试图了解这些蛋白质在正常、健康和正常运作的细胞中是怎么做的,乔伊纳说。. “一旦我们弄清楚了, 我们希望能够理解其中的原因, 当这些蛋白质没有发挥作用时, 这与这两种神经退行性疾病有关.”

拥抱失败

虽然他的实验室工作令人满意, working to increase diversity in the sciences continues to be important to 乔伊纳. 自从他在大流行期间开始担任新职务以来,指导工作在后勤上一直具有挑战性, 但他已经能够在他的实验室里指导研究生. 他的主要目的之一是教导科学研究的道路是令人兴奋的, 但也很艰难,充满了错误和失败. “I try just to be supportive in whatever way they need,他说. “Oftentimes it’s realizing that research is difficult, 它失败的次数比成功的次数要多得多, 但这并不是对他们个人的反思, it’s just that things are difficult 和 that’s OK — you’ll learn from the failure.”

He gives himself the same advice he offers mentees: “What we’re doing is hard. If it weren’t difficult, we would have all the answers already,他说. “我们正在研究生物学的边缘,这是非常复杂的. 细胞中有成千上万的蛋白质, 它们都是相互联系的, 所以试着梳理出它们对细胞健康和体内平衡的一个或几个个体贡献, it’s really tricky — even if your experiments all go perfectly well.正如每个科学家都知道的那样,他们通常不会这样做.

亚伦工匠的12 乔伊纳 adheres to his own advice to young scientists: “Spend time out of the lab!”
图片来源:Alison Yin

Another bit of advice he dispenses to himself 和 others: Spend time out of the lab! “我认为很多人不一定记得试着保持快乐,试着做实验室以外的事情,他说. 今年夏天,他正在进行DIY铁人三项的训练. (“我不喜欢为比赛买单,”他笑着说.) Some parts of it he’ll bike with 朋友 from 贝洛伊特 和 grad school. His wife, Alex和ra Hinck’14, may also run some with him. 他和欣克, a social scientist 和 assistant 教授 at San Francisco State University, met during his junior year at 贝洛伊特 when they were on the track 和 field team. In 2019, 在访问他们中西部的母校期间, they got engaged; they married in July 2022 in Gr和 Rapids, 密歇根.

The couple travels, gardens, 和 rockclimbs together — 和 they also bake. 乔伊纳的推特简介是这样写的:“喜欢运动、巧克力饼干和蛋白质结构.他最爱吃的饼干是他自己做的——“最糟糕的巧克力饼干食谱”(谷歌一下,看看它是怎么得名的). Does his science brain measure each grain of flour by the nanogram? “很多人都是这么想的,”他说. “But the problem is I spend all day in the lab following protocols, 下面的食谱, 本质上, 所以当我回到家的时候,我不想那样做.”


瓦莱丽·赖斯95年 is a writer 和 editor based in Western Massachusetts. 你可以在 valeriereiss.com


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