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Natalia Hanson, Ph.D.

Laboratory Instructor

I was born in one of the most beautiful cities of the world, St. Petersburg, Russia. Growing up with two parents who were college professors, I learned about the demands the biology research and teaching made on them. I could, however, see the tremendous satisfaction they derived from this work. By the time I entered high school I had decided to follow in their footsteps. I have never regretted this decision, although my research did necessitate sacrificing time from leisure reading or going to the opera or beach. The reward was the opportunity to do research with members of Russian Olympic teams in rowing, boxing and figure skating. My study of the brain mechanisms of human time perception served to determine individual differences and their influence on athletic performance, coaching techniques, and choice of teammates/partners/opponents in sport. Working with elite athletes is incredibly rewarding. Observing their determination, will power and persistence helped instill in me these attributes so important to a researcher. My hard work paid off. By age of 27 I earned my Ph. D. in human physiology from St. Petersburg State University. I published 37 scientific articles related to electrophysiological mechanisms of time perception and a student textbook chapter on electroencephalographic techniques.

In 1992 I immigrated to the USA. This required that I start my professional career all over! I spent three years learning English. I worked as a baby-sitter, as a housekeeper, and eventually at a secretarial job. I had my credentials evaluated and subsequently obtained a teaching certificate and worked a substitute teacher at Martin Van Buren High School. It took me four years to return to the professional level I came from - that of an assistant professor at St. John's University, where I have been employed since then. The Biology Department has utilized my ability to give lecture courses in General Biology, Human Biology, Biology and Health. I also instruct computerized laboratory classes and wet labs in Physiology and General Biology. Intermittently I also was employed as an Anatomy professor at Queensborough Community College.

I consider myself very fortunate that most of my adult life I have been doing what I find the most challenging, intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding job - research and teaching biology. At the Dolan DNA Learning Center I started with on-the-job training. I have observed a lot of lessons given by my colleagues, attended summer workshops and teacher training program. This experience has reinforced my appreciation of how fortunate I am to be surrounded by people who are really passionate about biology and teaching. It gives me great pleasure to convey tough scientific concepts to a new generation. I hope to continue scientific research, satisfying my desire to learn how the human body and brain works, now on a deeper level - on the level of DNA. I am proud to be a part of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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