Anna Loveland has been studying nature as long as she can remember. As a child, that looked like watching plants and bugs through the microscope she asked for as a gift. Now, as a postdoctoral researcher at University of Massachusetts Medical School, that looks like using cryo-electron microscopy to peer inside molecules at the atomic level.
“Science is really observation. As a child, I was always encouraged to watch things in my environment — bugs in the garden or how plants are growing,” she said. Loveland spent her early childhood growing up in Poland before moving to the United State when she was turning 7.
As a graduate student in biochemistry, she and others in her lab used single-molecule techniques to study DNA replication machinery. One night watching how the replisome — the complex machine that copies DNA — moved and assembled DNA was “the most exciting thing that ever happened to me,” she said.
But what she saw then was still blurry compared to the precise images that now allow her to watch how ribosomes choose the correct amino acid to synthesize proteins. Thanks to advances in technology, her work now can illuminate mechanisms that have been dissected only biochemically before.
“Science is really observation. As a child, I was always encouraged to watch things in my environment — bugs in the garden or how plants are growing.”
Outside the lab, Loveland enjoys getting her children interested in science. “I have two kids who I am introducing to the world the same way I was — a lot of time observing, having time outside, and hiking in the woods,” she said. “Plants and bugs.”
— Elizabeth Cooney