The DNALC's multi-disciplinary staff has experience in elementary, secondary, and collegiate instruction; biochemistry and molecular biological research; computer programming; design, photography, fine arts, and interior design; science journalism; public relations and development; and opinion research.

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Melissa Lee

Harlem DNA Lab Manager

My first memorable experience of science began with an experiment on diapers since my younger sister's consumption of them was becoming a legitimate family issue. To me, such an experiment seemed practical, yet not as sophisticated as my fellow 7th graders' experiments. To my surprise, my diaper project was one of the only two projects entered in the Bronx Borough Science Fair and it was the first time that I felt a certain sense of pride in my abilities as a future scientist.

As a high school student I was given the opportunity to work in a lab at Rockefeller University and be a member of the Pre-college Science Collaborative at the American Museum of Natural History. It was at the Museum that I took a Cold Spring Harbor course called "DNA Science" and was introduced to DNA recombinant technology. I remember working with pipettors and seeing DNA in gels for the first time and thinking how cool it was to manipulate DNA. This exposure, along with my experience at Rockefeller University propelled me forward in pursuing a science career.

At Johns Hopkins University I double majored in Biology and Art History and worked in a lab that studied mouse models of Down Syndrome. It was an exciting time, since the Human Genome Project was currently underway and our lab was elucidating the sequence of mouse chromosomes that are homologous to Human Chromosome 21 involved in Down Syndrome. After college I worked in a Developmental Genetics lab that was investigating the spatial and temporal expression of genes in early mouse development.

Years later, I started thinking that perhaps my actual niche would be in science education. I became a NYC teaching fellow and taught at The Marie Curie School for Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions for a number of years. At Marie Curie, I taught various courses, including Living Environment, Forensic Science, and Anatomy.

When a job opening for the Harlem DNA Lab Manager became available, I was drawn to this position because it encompasses all of who I believe myself to be as both a scientist and an educator. I get to teach my favorite topic, genetics, and I get to do that in my hometown of New York City.

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