Originally published February 2005
In June of 2004, NS student, Miranda Lim published an article in Nature using viral
vector mediated gene transfer to induce pair bonding abilities in a nonmonogamous
species. Her work went on to be named one of the top 100 discoveries of the year by Discover Magazine in January 2005. As a result, she has found herself in an international spotlight, but like the rest of us, this accomplishment didn’t come out of the blue. We got her lab-mate, Liz Hammock to tell us a little bit about her time with Miranda.
What do you do when you join a new lab where there is no clear path for a graduate student? You make a path. Over the past 5 years, this was Miranda Lim’s modus operandi in Larry Young’s lab. When Miranda first joined the lab as an MD/PhD student in 2000, Larry, as a young P.I., did not really have any official graduate students of his own. For
Miranda, it just meant that the door was wide open. Not only did she do it her way,
but as with everything she does, she created a path with high standards. When her Nature
paper (Lim et al, “Enhanced partner preference in promiscuous species by manipulating the expression of a single gene” 2004, 429:754-7), came out, even David Letterman worked it into his nightly monologue. This press extravaganza was most likely responsible
for the emails that the lab received from people requesting gene therapy for their cheating
partners. Miranda humbly shrugged off all of the attention and got right back into lab to ask more fascinating questions.
Miranda is successful in her personal life, too. She founded Emory’s water polo team when she came to Emory. Having watched several matches and seeing how she interacts with her teammates in and out of the pool, it is obvious that she is very highly regarded in
that area of her life too. I know I have certainly enjoyed having her as both a colleague
and a friend in the grad school journey. Miranda is really fun to talk to about “big science” and she has great tastes in music (Death Cab for Cutie, the Features, the Shins) and food (all things edible). Miranda has always balanced her busy life in the lab with extracurricular activities. She exemplifies what grad school life should be like: work hard and play hard.”
When asked about all the press coverage for her story, Miranda said, “It was really cool when the press release came out; the phones in the lab and in Larry’s office were ringing off the hook for two days straight. We googled ‘monogamy,’ and found the strangest websites that had picked up the press release. Lots of tabloids. And al-Jazeera, of all things, with the headline ‘Cure for human infidelity found’. It was interesting to see how the general public interpreted our research, kind of surreal. I do think it is important to use these rare opportunities to try to keep the tax-paying public informed about scientific research, in general; also it raises public awareness about science and can allow further scientific research and growth.” Yet her impact has not been limited to those who interact with her in lab and in the pool. NS program administrator, Sonia Hayden had some glowing things to say about her as well. “Miranda illuminates strength, intellect and determination in the purest and friendliest manner. She is the epitome of what anyone would want to have as their physician, mentor, colleague, or as in my case, a friend.”
Miranda defended her thesis last March and is currently finishing her medical training. She wants to apply for residency in pathology or psychiatry a, combination that she is “attempting to integrate, which is pretty much unheard of,” and “hopes to end up at Wash U where they are really good at both!” She will certainly be missed!