Hi everyone! I’m Maiko Kitaoka, and I’m a PhD student in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley (USA). I study mechanisms of chromosome mis-segregation using various species of Xenopus frogs and particularly chromosome loss in inviable Xenopus hybrids. My thesis project combines cell biological mechanisms and genomics in a unique evolutionary context, making it both interdisciplinary and exciting for this self-proclaimed cell cycle/cell division and microscopy nerd! Previously, I completed my undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where my research focused on the cell biology of developmental cell cycle transitions in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.
In addition to my research, I’m really passionate about improving academic science to make it more generous and accessible to all. Science is difficult enough at the bench, so every other aspect (career progression/trajectory, publishing, collaborations, communication, etc) should be as open and kind and positive as possible. To this end, I’ve recently become an eLife Ambassador where I hope to contribute to specific initiatives to aid in reproducibility, open-access publishing, and improving the daily “life of a scientist” (whatever that means to you). I also contribute regularly to preLights, an initiative by the Company of Biologists to highlight new and cool bioRxiv preprints in an effort to speed up the availability of scientific information and discovery.
Some fun facts about me: I was previously a pre-professional ballet dancer with American Ballet Theatre in NYC before discovering science at MIT, so you can often find me pirouetting around the bench doing my experiments these days (to my lab’s amusement). I know many Broadway musicals by heart (perhaps to my labmates’ annoyance), read voraciously, and believe that laughter and sunshine and love is the best medicine for anything. I dream about (in no particular order) writing my own book, starring in a Broadway production, owning a book café, and making it as a scientist and changing science for the better.
I’m really looking forward to taking over the @Biotweeps account for the week, and I hope you enjoy this peek into my life as a graduate student scientist! There will be frogs, mitotic spindles, sunshine, and more! Follow me on Twitter (@MaikoKitaoka) and Instagram (@maikokitaoka) for more insights into my life as a PhD student, frog wrangler, bookworm, and weird human being. Check out my website to learn more about me, my research, etc, and follow my blog for more of my personal thoughts about graduate school, #scicomm, and the state of science.