Detour in research leads doctoral student to discovery

Cameron MacQuarrie, a doctoral student in the lab of Vladimir Sirotkin, PhD, was studying the regulation and localization of a specific protein when he was asked by a collaborator to investigate a different, but associated protein.

“It was a misdirection from the main project,” he recalled, “but a happy one.”

The “misdirection” led to MacQuarrie discovering that the protein he’d been asked to look into, Bbc1, could regulate how cell membranes deform to internalize materials. He shared his findings in the Journal of Cell Science, in a paper, “The S. pombe adaptor protein Bbc1 regulates localization of Wsp1 and Vrp1 during endocytic actin patch assembly.”

“Several proteins involved in generating the force needed for this process are expressed in both mammalian and yeast cells; however, how these proteins are regulated to ensure sufficient force is produced remains an open question,” he explained in the Journal. Using yeast cells, MacQuarrie discovered that Bbc1 disrupts an interaction that normally keeps the main force generating molecules near the membrane, regulating the extent of the membrane deformation in cells. Additionally, MacQuarrie was featured in the Journal’s “First Person” section, where first authors of some papers published in the Journal are profiled, “helping early-career researchers promote themselves alongside their papers,” according to the publication.

MacQuarrie shared what brought him to pursue a career in science: “Like many, I started my undergraduate education as a pre-med student. I spent the summer before my junior year working in a C. elegans lab, hoping to boost my CV for med school applications; however, after being exposed to the freedom and excitement of working independently in a lab setting, I decided to switch routes and pursue a career in research,” he told the Journal.

He also explained that he comes from a science-loving family. His mother is a middle-school science teacher, his father and oldest brother are in medicine and his middle brother is a physicist.

Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, and raised in Tennessee, MacQuarrie came to Upstate after graduating from Lipscomb University in Nashville.

MacQuarrie said Syracuse “feels like a nice community.” He enjoys the proximity to other cities, as well as the nearness to the Finger Lakes and the Adirondacks.

MacQuarrie is looking for post-doctoral opportunities and hopes to one day have his own lab.

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