Physics Spotlight

September 2018
Physics Spotlight

Liudmila Belonogov

M.S., University of Massachusetts Amherst

Liudmila Belonogov was nominated by the Physics Department due to her work in Ross lab. She recently graduated from UMass Amherst this past Spring with her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. This Fall, she starts her journey as a Molecular & Cellular Biology graduate student and will continue to work alongside Dr. Jennifer Ross, concentrating on her research with microtubules. Liudmila spends a majority of her time working in the lab and despite her busy schedule, is always helping out with other events, most recently, presenting at new student orientation and giving lab tours.

What brought you to the University of Massachusetts to continue your studies? Where did you do your undergrad? What is your degree in?

My journey at UMASS Amherst begins as a junior in the undergraduate program since I transferred from a Community College.  Back in 2016, I was planning to graduate from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with the goal of applying to Medical School. Working on the program curriculum part time doing laboratory research, I was able to find my passion. I found that working at a bench, constantly learning something new rather than working directly, was exciting and required patience. This newfound love of mine encouraged me to continue my education and pursue a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology.


Who is your faculty advisor and why did you pick them?

Currently, I study and work under Dr. Jennifer Ross’s laboratory. I joined this lab as an undergraduate during a summer internship through the Physics B-SMART REU program. In the beginning, I was assigned a microscopy project, but this made me realize that I was more interested in the Molecular Biology side of Dr. Ross’s lab, prompting me to move in another direction under her advisement. I found Molecular Biology very fascinating since I begin to understand how cells function at the molecular level. Biology is very complex, but it is very intriguing how all it works in harmony and in balance. Showing my interest and understanding of molecular biology, Dr. Ross proposed that I remain in her lab after the program and continue to work alongside her.


What has been your favorite Graduate level course?

This Fall is my first semester in the master’s program, but I am looking forward to courses involving thesis work, which means I can get more lab hours in!


What are some of your research interests?

Currently, I am interested in cancer research. Hopefully, learning the correct techniques in Molecular and Cellular Biology will assist me in getting prepared to enter into the cancer research field where I hope to make a difference for those who are in need. 


Has any of your research resulted in a published article?

Currently, Dr. Ross and I are working on submitting my first paper. I am very excited about this!


What are your future plans?

After the completion of my master’s degree here at UMASS, I plan to apply to the Ph.D. Cancer Biology program.


Do you have a favorite experiment that you have worked on thus far?

So far, I have a few experiments that I love, but one of my absolute favorites involves collecting data with high salt microtubules. During this experiment you are able to observe how microtubules bend, forming different angles before they detach. It’s like bending a wire before it breaks off. The only difference is, is that when you bend a wire you apply force, causing the wire to bend. But in high salt microtubule, katanin chops off a microtubule filament, which allows the microtubule to bend.


Is there a course, seminar or program that you would like to see here on campus?

Molecular and Cellular Biology has affiliations with different programs that help you to find your area of interest with different overlaps within those programs. For instance, I am mainly interested in the cancer research field which is covered by the Biomedicine Department but is easily accessible to graduate students.


What advice would you give to undergraduates considering Graduate programs?

Before you apply to graduate school ask yourself if you are really committed to the program. Is this something that you want to do long term? Also, consider what types of people in or around the dame field, that you want to interact with throughout your career.


Do you have any hobbies?

I love spending time outdoors. I think having some relationship with nature is very important and has a positive effect on your health.  Taking a hike, gardening or just sitting outside in the shade, helps keep my stress levels low, helps keep me centered and promotes focus.