As a graduate student at Cornell University, Laura Katz became very interested in, as one
of her senior colleagues calls them, ‘those darn exceptions in biology.’ Her passion for the
unusual biology of microorganisms led her to pursue several lines of research on eukaryotic
microbes including: reconstructing the eukaryotic tree of life, describing the dynamic nature
of eukaryotic genomes, and characterizing some of the tremendous diversity of ciliates and
amoebae on Earth.
Laura has been at Smith College since 1998, where she enjoys involving some of the
fantastic students in her research program. In light of the tremendous opportunities created
by Smith’s successful admission program (i.e. ~1 of 5 students entering Smith in 2011 was
first in her family to attend college), Laura co-founded a program called AEMES — Achieving
Excellence in Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences. AEMES uses a team-based
approach (e.g. involving faculty, staff and students) to support students from underserved
communities as they achieve excellence in the sciences, engineering and mathematics.
When not in the lab (or on her laptop), Laura can most often be found cheering her
teenagers at the soccer field or walking her dogs in the woods.