Research highlight: A Day Out of the Lab

This June, the Sherman lab threw aside their safety goggles and lab coats to join three other research groups for a game of kickball on Palmer Field. 

The laboratories of Janet Smith, Georgios Skiniotis, and Anna Mapp joined the Sherman lab for the kickball game on a sunny Friday afternoon.  The research groups took breaks between innings to mingle and enjoy refreshments under the hot sun.  "It was enjoyable to get outside with the lab,” said Aaron Koch, a graduate student in Cancer Biology and a member of the Sherman laboratory. 

Members of the four laboratories were divided into two teams—Team X-Men and Team Justice League.  The kickball game lasted late into the afternoon, and the researchers had so much fun that most soon forgot it was a competition.  “I lost track of the score after the first two innings,” said Andrew Lowell, a postdoctoral scholar in the Sherman lab.  Scorekeepers told him afterwards that his team—Team Justice League—narrowly won the game.    

The kickball game wasn’t just limited to graduate students.  Several of the principal investigators also took their turn on the field. “It was great to see Anna [Mapp] and David [Sherman] playing too,” said Lowell.

The four laboratories have a history of collaboration.   The Sherman and Mapp labs jointly mentor a graduate student in Chemical Biology (Matt Beyersdorf) who studies the interactions of proteins involved in gene regulation.   Last month, the Sherman, Smith, and Skiniotis lab also jointly published a pair of groundbreaking papers in Nature. The articles are the first to describe the structure of a class of microbial enzymes that work in an assembly line to make antibiotics and other medicines. 

The kickball game only strengthened these collaborations and helped form stronger bonds between members of the research groups.   “I enjoyed interacting with researchers from other labs in an informal setting and made a lot of new friends,“ said Lowell. 

This isn’t the first time the four laboratories have gotten together in an informal setting.  Last March, the research groups participated in a mock game show over refreshments in the library of the Life Sciences Institute.  More events are also being planned for the future.