Meet a Scientist: Our New Editor-in-Chief, Ross Keller

A note from our Editor-in-Chief: 

I will be defending my dissertation in just a few weeks, and therefore it’s time to hand over the reins. I would like to introduce Ross Keller, our new Editor-in-Chief! Ross is a 5th-year Biomedical Sciences graduate student, and he’s written and edited many blog posts that have been submitted to Lions Talk Science over the last three years. I have no doubt that the blog is in great hands! It has been amazing to watch this blog thrive since its launch in May 2013, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Thanks for supporting our graduate student blog!

-Jordan Gaines Lewis

Now let’s get to know Ross!

Let’s get to know you a bit! Where are you from, where did you go to school, and what is your role at Penn State College of Medicine?ross

I grew up in Fargo, ND and attended West Fargo High School. I graduated in 2007 and went on to attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. I graduated from there in 2011 and made my way to Penn State College of Medicine. I am now a PhD candidate in Biomedical Sciences focusing on cancer research, specifically novel mechanisms of initiation and modes to relapse using breast cancer models. In addition to research, I have served as the Social Chair, Community Service Chair and President of the Graduate Student Association. I have also been an editor at Lions Talk Science for three years and written several articles about cancer, genetics, and animal research. I’m thrilled to be the new Editor-in-Chief.

Why did you decide to become a scientist?

I’ve always been fascinated by how the world around us is built. I was most drawn to Chemistry and Biology because those disciplines give us a clear window into how living organisms are built, but they also afford the opportunity to intervene and influence the building blocks. We can make new chemicals to treat diseases, we can genetically engineer plants to make them resistant to cold, and we can design strategies to treat or even cure genetic abnormalities like cancer. Discovery can satisfy curiosity, and intervention can help save lives.

What do you research at Penn State, and why is it important?

2016-05-12 16.35.06My dissertation work consists of two main projects. The first explores mutation signatures, which are specific footprints in DNA. The signatures can be influenced by mutagens/genetics/timing/or a whole host of things. Analyzing patterns in the signatures lets us look back in time and figure out what factors caused the tumor to develop and subsequently grow. The second is looking into a potentially novel constraint on tumor growth. A tumor may require a specific sub-maximal level of growth signal for proliferation, and a level that is too high could lead to self-destruction. It may be possible to exploit the constraint as a treatment strategy.

What are some of your hobbies outside the lab?

23473_303265497407_1315374_nI really like traveling. It’s one of the many reasons I like Penn State Hershey. Being so close to all the big east coast cities makes for lots of weekend trips! I like writing obviously. I also enjoy politics, which means election season is like a very long Super Bowl.

Tell us three random facts about yourself!

  1. I have two younger brothers.
  2. I was on the varsity swim team in high school.
  3. I don’t like seafood.

Follow Ross on Twitter @RossK11.

Stay tuned for future interviews! And if you’re a Penn State College of Medicine scientist interested in participating, e-mail for details!

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