Lauren Lui – Biosciences

Fadji Maina, Sneha Jani, Ro-Ya Liu

Words Lauren Lives By: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” ~ Albert Einstein

Lauren’s journey to Berkeley Lab

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Born in Yuba City (California), Lauren grew up in Sacramento and received her B.S. in Mathematical Biology from UC Davis and her Ph.D. in Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics from UC Santa Cruz. Lauren is currently a postdoc in the Biosciences Area. She studies microbial communities by using bioinformatics, high-throughput culturing, and high-throughput sequencing methods.

…Fascinated by microbes

Lauren was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was in grad school. She fought this cancer for 6 months, an experience that made her stronger and more determined to pursue her passion. She stopped being afraid of trying, a quality that now allows her to better decode the secret lives of microbes, her greatest fascination!

As part of ENIGMA, Lauren studies how the living conditions of microbes affect their survival and how they transform their environment. She uses DNA sequencing and cultivation methods to gather data on microbial communities and uses computational methods to develop a predictive understanding of microbial activity and survival. Currently, she works with plant-associated and subsurface microbes and hopes that her research will help agriculture and our understanding of the impact of microbes on the environment.

What is her next step?

Lauren’s dream is to use the DNA of microbes to perfectly predict how microbes live and act in a community. She would like to continue her research as a PI in her own lab. She is passionate about teaching and sharing her knowledge, hence she is also considering professorship.

“Balance for better!”…

When she was in grad school, Lauren struggled with gender bias, a frustrating experience. She created and served as a president of the “Women in Science and Engineering” group, believing that women could support each other and science needs women. She is now co-secretary for the LBNL Women in Scientists and Engineers Council.

Interviewed and written by Fadji Maina, Sneha Jani, and Ro-Ya Liu – On behalf of BLPA