BMMB Features: Latisha Franklin
The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) Department is fortunate to have a multitude of graduate students within its Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology (BMMB) Program dedicated to developing their research and teaching skills. Our students are making discoveries and generating independent knowledge through their research within our labs.
Meet Latisha Franklin, a graduate student working towards earning her Ph.D in the Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology Program (BMMB) at Penn State. She has always had a love for science, always searching to learn more about “why” and “how” things worked. Latisha credits the television show “Maury” for narrowing her scientific interests and as her catalyst to pursue her education in the life sciences.
“Maury” is a syndicated American tabloid talk show that emphasizes controversial and sensationalistic topical subject matter. First aired in 1991, and is still in production today, the show is in its 29th season and has produced more than 3,500 episodes. “Maury used to determine who was, or was not, the father of a child through a simple saliva sample,” Latisha said. “I wanted to know how that worked. I have also been fortunate to have great science teachers support me throughout my schooling.”
Latisha is a graduate from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She chose to pursue her Ph.D. at Penn State, in the BMMB Program, because of its collaborative and community-minded environment. “The people supported, embraced, and made me feel comfortable,” she said. Latisha also felt that the University not only cultivated a productive and openly collaborative research environment, but also had the distinction of being “Green”, both literally in its beautiful surroundings as well as figuratively in its focus on sustainability.
Latisha currently works in the laboratory of Wendy Hanna-Rose, professor and department head of biochemistry and molecular biology. The overarching goal of the Hanna-Rose laboratory is to understand how very specific perturbations to the metabolic network result in physiological and behavioral outcomes. Lastisha’s research uses C. elegans, microscopic worms, as a model organism to study muscle dysfunction associated with the human disease adenylosuccinate lyase deficiency (ASLD). She believes her work will enable future understanding of the connection between metabolic changes and phenotypic outcomes, such as muscle dysfunction. She also believes that her work will help identify non-toxic therapeutics to can aid those with ASLD and many others.
Outside of the laboratory Latisha focuses her efforts on establishing and maintaining a supportive and welcoming climate. She is the recipient of a Climate and Diversity Award from the Eberly College of Science and has mentored other students who are just beginning their graduate career. Latisha also hosts her own YouTube channel “Gratified Grad” where she shares her personal, as well as other student’s, tips, tricks and hacks. She hopes “Gratified Grad” can help other graduate students develop for themselves a healthy graduate school experience.