By Margaret McKinney
New Mexico Highlands biology professor Carol Linder will complete a research sabbatical this fall in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University, one of the premier research institutions in the world.
Linder, a cell and reproductive biology scientist, joined the Highlands University faculty in 2004 and established her Reproductive Biology Laboratory in 2005 with a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Linder developed a mouse colony for her research, which focuses on male infertility.
“My lab uses genetic mouse models to identify genes and understand the mechanisms required for spermatogenesis – sperm development,” Linder said. “Our focus has largely been on a GOLGA3 protein mutation that causes infertility in a unique mouse strain. The ultimate goal is to provide insight into human male infertility.”
At Johns Hopkins, Linder will further examine the specific role of the GOLGA3 protein in regulating sperm development in mice using samples from her Highlands mouse colony.
“This will give me the chance to completely immerse myself in a research-intensive environment, working side by side with other cell and reproductive biologists,” Linder said. “My primary goal is to learn new cell culture research techniques I can use to advance my research, and teach to my students.
“I also want to establish an active collaboration with scientists at Johns Hopkins,” Linder said.
Linder will conduct her research in cell biologist Carolyn Machamer’s state-of-the-art lab at Johns Hopkins.
Machamer is a leading expert in the Golgi complex – a major processing and sorting center found in all animal cells. The GOLGA3 protein is part of the Golgi complex, which is important in sperm development.
“Having another well-trained scientist like Carol is very advantageous for my research group, and I expect her sabbatical to be very synergistic,” Machamer said. “She brings a different perspective because of her expertise in mouse genetics. We’ll learn from her knowledge of using spermatogenesis to study male infertility. I’m impressed with the complexity of Carol’s experiments, and what she’s accomplished at a small teaching university.”
Machamer, who also directs a Johns Hopkins program for 150 Ph.D. science students in 106 labs, noted Linder’s track record with her students.
“I’m also impressed with the success Carol has mentoring students who go on to do great things. You cannot underestimate the value of good mentors at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” Machamer said.
Machamer also has her sights set on building a partnership with Highlands.
“We’re hopeful that Carol’s sabbatical will lead to a productive long-term collaboration with Highlands University,” Machamer said.
During her tenure at Highlands, Linder has mentored 34 undergraduate students, 11 graduate students, and one postdoctoral fellow.
“The most important thing I’ve done in my career is to mentor undergraduate and graduate students in my lab,” Linder said. “I’m exposing them to the type of research that is conducted at major research institutions. The fact that so many of my students are successful at the graduate and doctoral levels is extremely rewarding, and validates what we’re doing here at Highlands.
“My biggest goal in teaching and my research lab is to get my students to think like scientists. It’s more than learning the specific molecular biology methods – it’s also interpreting and applying results in a larger context.”
Linder teaches upper-division courses in genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, as well as biology courses for non-majors.
During her sabbatical, Linder will communicate with her graduate students at Highlands via e-mail and Skype. David Brookshier, a new lab technician, will maintain Linder’s mice colony and lab.