Essay

An ion channel connection

This is the second-place winner in our “Meeting Connections” contest
Sandra Rossie
By Sandra Rossie
March 25, 2022

Years ago as an assistant professor just starting my own lab, I was investigating Ser/Thr protein phosphatases that acted on sodium channels.

At a Society for Neuroscience meeting, a close colleague from my former postdoc lab suggested I view a poster by David Armstrong, a highly accomplished electrophysiologist. His work described regulation of a potassium channel by a phosphatase with similar properties to one that I was chasing. I got very excited and told David all the ideas his work suggested to me. He kindly suggested that I obtain his cell line from him and do the experiments I wished to do. I agreed and left.

Later, David dined with a friend of yet another old postdoc colleague of mine. That friend encouraged him to take me more seriously, and the next day he looked me up and offered to collaborate more closely, as he understood our skills were complementary.

David and I continued to collaborate until he recently retired from his position at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In addition to research, we co-edited a book on ion channels and initiated a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology conference devoted to ion channels.

David has been the most wonderful and generous collaborator and mentor over all these years. The thing I enjoyed most was that he would call out of the blue with outrageous ideas — he made me laugh like crazy and think hard outside the box. Some of those ideas turned out to be real. It was always fun and intellectually stimulating to do science with David.

Incidentally, as often occurs in science, the enzyme we both thought we were chasing was not correct — it turned out to be a new phosphatase family member, which made our journey that much more fun and exciting.

Like Experimental Biology meetings, Society for Neuroscience meetings are huge, and you never know what connections you can make. I have my good friends from my postdoc years to thank for this long-lived collaboration, and I try my best to pay it forward to young scientists in my own sphere of influence.

The lesson of this story is that science never happens in a vacuum — go out and tell your science story, make friends and have fun doing science together. It’s vastly more enriching that way.

MEETING CONNECTIONS

Have you made a friendship or connection, forged a collaboration, gleaned insight or had another meaningful experience at a scientific meeting?

To celebrate the return of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting as an in-person event, ASBMB Today held an essay contest based on this question. This is one of the winning entries.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Sandra Rossie
Sandra Rossie

Sandra Rossie is a professor of chemistry at Purdue University. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, did postdoctoral work at the University of Washington and was an assistant professor at the University of Arizona before moving to Purdue.

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in Opinions

Opinions highlights or most popular articles

Evolutionary constraints on disordered proteins
Feature

Evolutionary constraints on disordered proteins

Dec. 5, 2022

Best of BMB 2022: “There’s evidence that there must be conservation of function — so how does this happen, if the sequence changes so much?”

Fun in Seattle
President's Message

Fun in Seattle

Dec. 1, 2022

#DiscoverBMB 2023: Come to Seattle for the science. Stay for the aquarium!

The f -word (failure) in research: When good plans go bad
Books

The f -word (failure) in research: When good plans go bad

Nov. 29, 2022

This is an edited excerpt from “Life and Research: A Survival Guide for Early-Career Biomedical Scientists,” a book that started as a tweet, according to its authors.

Proteins for a green energy future
Essay

Proteins for a green energy future

Nov. 20, 2022

“We need giant steps, not small, if we are going to create the innovation in policies, political will, and technology needed to succeed with this existential problem,” writes Vanderbilt’s Borden Lacy.

A glimpse into the world of lipids
Interview

A glimpse into the world of lipids

Nov. 18, 2022

ASBMB’s Deuel conference provides "a bird’s-eye view of the field."’

Advocacy successes in 2022
Funding

Advocacy successes in 2022

Nov. 17, 2022

Here’s some of what the ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Committee and public affairs department have been up to over the past year.