Get to know: Megan King and Patrick Lusk

Megan King and Patrick Lusk run their cell biology labs together at Yale.
Megan King and Patrick Lusk run their cell biology labs together at Yale.

Megan King and Patrick Lusk

Both Associate Professors of Cell Biology

What questions does your work try to answer?

Probably too many! Broadly speaking, we are working to understand nuclear organization with a focus on mechanisms that control the integrity of the nuclear compartment and the genome.

What excites you about your work?

Wednesday mornings. These are lab meeting days when we get to hear first hand about all the discoveries, failed experiments, and new ideas from members of our team. The perfect lab meeting, which we get closer to realizing all the time, is one where we mostly keep quiet because the most rewarding part of our week is listening while our junior and senior lab members from an array of disciplines discuss experimental and conceptual details. This leaves us to steer the ship, pay for the bagels, and occasionally make a bet that, if lost, will lead to cake of some sort.

The LusKing lab annual bbq and badminton tournament.

What are some challenges you face in your work?

It’s lovely to get caught up in exciting, new ideas, but at the end of the day, science is hard work carried out by dedicated people who must be able to thrive. We joined our labs for many reasons, but a major one was to improve our collective mentoring. We strongly believe that the strengths and weaknesses in our individual mentorship styles are well complemented by the other. Having said that, understanding what a given trainee needs from us in order to reach their full potential is one of the toughest challenges we face and one that we continually aspire to improve on.

How has your membership in ASCB impacted your career journey?

For Megan, her first foray into the field was an ASCB-sponsored meeting on the Nuclear Envelope in Iowa in 2005 – one of the first (welcoming) steps into the cell biology community that we remain a part of nearly twenty years later. ASCB was also an integral part of our early careers as independent scientists. The annual meeting provided the ideal venue to showcase our work while our (formerly independent) labs were getting off the ground. Further, as both of us always want to attend the ASCB meeting, we have appreciated, particularly during our postdoctoral years, the ASCB childcare awards, which made figuring out a childcare solution for our four kids more feasible. These days there is a special poignancy to the awarding of the Günter Blobel Early Career Award as he was our incredibly inspiring postdoctoral mentor and still someone we miss very much.

April Fool’s Day, aka dress like Patrick/dress like Megan day.

What is some advice you would give your younger self?

Run a joint lab. Although not everyone can (or would want) to run a joint lab, we would have saved ourselves a lot of early mistakes if we had just started our lab as a joint one from the beginning.

What do you do for fun?

Our kids are starting to reach ages where we have time to ask ourselves this question! We are fortunate to live in a beautiful area along the Connecticut shoreline where we enjoy hiking, kayaking, and cycling. But if we are being honest, we enjoy eating and drinking the most, especially if that eating and drinking happen in New York!

Anything else you would like to share?

We know that it has been a challenging few years for scientific societies, including ASCB. There are so many ways to get involved, at any career stage, so we would encourage everyone to think about how they can participate. ASCB has a key role to play in building an inclusive and impactful community for the field of cell biology and it has been terrific to see how it is working to better support those twin goals.

Editor’s Note: “Get to Know” is an American Society for Cell Biology blog series devoted to profiling our membership. If you are a current ASCB member and would like to be featured, please get in touch with ASCB’s Director of Membership, Brian Theil, btheil at ascb dot org.

About the Author:

This post was collaboratively written by several ASCB staff members.