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CIE Researcher of Distinction, May 2017

Camillia Monestime

Camillia Monestime

Each month, the Center for Inclusive Education showcases the outstanding research being conducted by one of our talented scholars in our Research Café series. In addition, we recognize this scholar as a Researcher of Distinction and share the details of his/her journey to becoming an accomplished scholar. This month's Researcher of Distinction is Camillia Monestime, PhD candidate in the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior. Camillia presented her work, ‘Activity of CoRest in zebrafish neural development on Monday, May 8, 2017.

Camillia's Path Into Research

Camillia Monestime is a fourth-year PhD candidate from the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior. Before starting her PhD career at Stony Brook University, she graduated with a BS in Biology in 2013 from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College. Her research is themed on better understanding the dynamic interactions between the macro-complex REST, and its many components that allow it to play a vast role in various developmental processes. Camillia was awarded the NIH Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship at SUNY Stony Brook for her first two years in the Neuroscience graduate program and in 2015 was awarded the W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship.

Camillia's Current Research

Describe the work you presented for your Research Café.

Precise control of gene expression is essential for nervous system development and function. CoRest is a protein that binds to the Re-1 silencing transcription factor (Rest) which acts as a transcriptional repressor that regulates neurogenesis, fine-tunes expression of neural genes, and maintains pluripotency. Misexpression of the Rest/CoRest complex has been linked to Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Down Syndrome. Rest binds to a DNA element and acts as a scaffolding protein that recruits co-repressors, CoRest and Sin3, which then recruit histone modifiers to alter the chromatin structure. The role of the CoRest co-repressor family and their repressive activity is not well understood. I'm interested in teasing apart the Rest-dependent and independent role of the CoRest protein in early zebrafish development.

How did you become interested in research?

I was introduced to research by the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and was further encouraged through the Minority Access for Research Careers (MARC).

Are there any other projects you are currently working on? 

I’m working on writing my first paper on my thesis work.

What was the deciding factor for you to come to Stony Brook for your graduate studies?

I had previously heard Dr. Sirotkin give a talk at Brooklyn College and then subsequently applied to the Neurobiology Program at Stony Brook. After visiting I not only liked the faculty, my fellow graduate students and the campus, but no other university that I had applied to or interviewed at had a center that was dedicated to diversity in the same way that the Center for Inclusive Education was invested in our advancement.

What are your future goals?

I’m looking to apply to post-doctorate positions in about a year, when I’ve further completed my dissertation project.

What do you enjoy most about research?

I enjoy that I’m constantly learning and being pushed to think and approach problems and questions in a better, more efficient manner.