As a first year graduate student, I felt a sense of camaraderie with intrinsically disordered proteins. The fact that these proteins did not fit into one structure resonated with me. Perhaps you can relate. As a back story, I had just switched from performing optogenetics research in my undergraduate work to studying the biophysics of proteins. Looking back five years later, I am amazed at how much this field has grown, as have I.
For me, this year the talks at the IDP subgroup and through the IDP symposiums were the most exciting. Who knew that even PKA has intrinsically disordered residues important in signalling! And the role of disordered proteins in circadian rhythms help me to make sense of and cope with jet lag. Moreover, as a MD simulations researcher, the talks on the accuracy of force fields for IDPs and structured proteins made me very excited for the future possibilities of simulating IDPs.
I think one of the best things I did in my graduate work was to become part of the IDP subgroup and run for graduate representative. I have collaborated with graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the field of IDPs to write up a newsletter each month; “The IDP State Letter.” In this newsletter, we would summarize and read various new and old papers in the IDP field. This newsletter forced me to write and read science that was at times quite tangential to my own research. There were times when I felt that I had too many important things to do in the lab and could not contribute. But instead, I paused and took time away from my research to read something completely unrelated to my field, which somehow always helped me to see my own research through a new lens.
As a newly minted postdoc, I encourage everyone to take part in this sort of “extracurricular” education, many of which are possible through the Biophysical Society. It has helped me to realize my passion not just for science, but for communicating science.
If you are interested in staying up to date on the newest and most notable research in the IDP field, check out the IDP state letter by enrolling in our mailing list here. If you would like to branch out of your normal day to day and contribute to the IDP state letter, feel free to email me!