JUSTL participant: Dr Karen Wing Man Lee

21 May 2020

Dr Karen Wing Man Lee obtained her MPhil and PhD in the laboratory of Prof Andrew L. Miller (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) where she studied the role of Ca2+ signaling during fertilization and the early cleavage stage in zebrafish embryos. In 2004, she was awarded a Croucher Foundation Fellowship to work in the laboratory of Dr Marc Moreau (Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France) where she investigated neural induction in developing Xenopus laevis embryos. After finishing in Toulouse, she worked in the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris in the laboratory of Dr Marie-Hélène Verlhac. She then spent a short time in RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Dr Antony Perry’s laboratory before moving back to France, this time to The Villefranche-sur-mer Developmental Biology Laboratory where she worked with Dr Alex McDougall. She has since left science and runs her own business in Cannes in the South of France.

JUSTL Programme

..I had the opportunity to meet many scientists from all over the world as well as attend the lectures organized by the MBL.

Dr Lee attended the 2010 JUSTL programme. Because she was one of the more mature JUSTL participants, she worked on her own project. This involved using a proteomic approach to identify and characterize novel proteins that might play a role during meiosis in the ascidian species Ascidella aspersa. She tested several chromosome-associated protein candidates to determine their expression and localization in ascidian oocytes before going on to characterize the involvement of these proteins during meiosis in a mammalian model.

When I asked Dr Lee how she would describe her experience on the JUSTL programme, she told me: “The MBL is a renowned international marine research institute. During my stay [ ], I had the opportunity to meet many scientists from all over the world as well as attend the lectures organized by MBL (e.g., the Friday night lectures and the Embryology and Physiology summer course lectures).”

Dr Lee said that she was helped and inspired by a number of people at the MBL. She said that she was new to the ascidian field. However, Dr Karen Crawford (JUSTL programme Co-director), introduced her to an ascidian expert, Dr William Jeffery (University of Maryland), whose laboratory was across the corridor from the JUSTL laboratory. “Dr Jeffery took me out to collect ascidians in Woods Hole and he gave me a lot of advice during the initial setup of my ascidian colony.” Dr Lee is also very grateful to Mr Eric Karplus (ScienceWares, Inc.) who custom-designed a microinjection platform within two days of her arrival at the MBL, to suit her microinjection requirements. She is also grateful to a colleague from Villefranche-sur-mer, Dr Jenifer C. Croce, who introduced her to Dr Robert Zeller (California Institute of Technology), the instructor of the ascidian module of the Embryology course, who gave her useful advice on ascidian in-vitro fertilization and sample collection.

Dr Lee found that the JUSTL programme gave the participants invaluable international exposure, and provided them with “an opportunity to meet many experts in our field and have a chance to discuss with them our research.” She said that they were able to visit different laboratories to find out how other scientists do their research. She believes that working in Woods Hole for 8 weeks was an inspiring time for all the JUSTL participants.