Charlotte Wirth (G5, Lu Lab)

Where are you from and what do you enjoy most about your hometown?

I was raised on an island in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota which is the northernmost point of the contiguous 48 states. I loved the sense of community there.

What is your research focused on?

Exposure to heavy metals, like lead, through drinking water or agriculture increases the likelihood of developing incurable neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. I use unique cell models in the lab to determine how exactly heavy metals cause neurodegenerative disorders in an effort to develop future therapies to prevent or slow down these disorders.

 What is your favorite part of your research?

I love that my research allows me to use skills largely removed from people – cellular and molecular biology techniques – to directly help people around the globe. I work with simple cells in a dish, but those cells can reveal complex, microscopic pathways that hold the secrets behind a treatment for neurodegeneration.

How do you relax when you’re not working?

When not in the lab I get as much nature as I can. I try to walk around Fresh Pond in Cambridge every day. I also tend to my (too) many houseplants when I can’t get outside.