Graduate student leaves lasting mark on Yale West Campus

Thursday, May 14, 2020

West Campus graduate student Becky LaCroix shared her insights into what it’s been like to move from her lab at West Campus to a remote workspace. A member of Andre Levchenko’s lab at the Systems Biology Institute, Becky recently defended her dissertation not in person, but online. In her seventh year at Yale, LaCroix studies how intracellular protein localization affects cell signaling and behavior. Her recent project developed a technique to generate protein gradients within cells to study the effect of those gradients on cancer cell migration.

Creating a kickstarter, coordinating a conference, keeping up with Zoom Zumba….oh, and defending her thesis online – West Campus grad student Becky LaCroix shared her thoughts about studying remotely during #COVID19

Before hearing from Becky, everyone at West Campus Administration would like to express our sincere thanks for all she has done to energize not just the campus’ student committee, but the whole of Yale’s West Campus as well. Following the groundwork laid by students before her, Becky became the first formal Chair of the West Campus Student and Postdoc Committee (WSPC), excelling in this role and building the group into a recognized forum for advocacy and programming for junior scholars on West Campus. Among her many tangible accomplishments, Becky made a personal commitment to creating an inclusive space that now connects trainees from all parts of campus – across all seven West Campus Institutes, including our energy science, health science, and cultural heritage domains, and to scholars at Yale School of Nursing. The broad accomplishments of the Committee are in large measure due to the way Becky has embraced the ideas of everyone on campus. Numerous projects have been adopted on the basis of regular community input, covering health and wellness, transit, dining, professional development, student social life, and much more. We are indebted to her for the progress made during her tenure here.

We look forward to continuing the supportive partnership with campus students that Becky’s leadership has helped create. Our many congratulations to her and our best of luck for the future.

Q: How are you getting along with moving your work remotely? How has it changed how you interact with your research team?

Luckily, I was writing my dissertation when the quarantine started, so I had already been working from home several days per week. I just defended my thesis over Zoom on April 13, and although it would have been fun to share my work in person, I was very touched by how many people tuned in to show their support. I think I probably had a bigger audience than I would have had in person!

Q: Tell us about some of the non-work activities you’ve been engaging in. 

I have been doing “Zoom Zumba” once a week and practicing my ukulele. I was actually an avid jigsaw puzzle maker already, so I’ve kept up that hobby as well!

Q: Share an example of how you are keeping in touch with people.

Around the time that the quarantine began, I launched a Kickstarter campaign with some friends from the Society of Women Engineers. We are crowdfunding for a STEM education kit that we designed to teach kids how to code at home (check us out at! We’ve been meeting at least once per week over Skype to discuss the project, and it has provided some valuable face time with friends! The altruistic nature of the project (all proceeds going to our STEM outreach events) has helped all of us to feel a sense of purpose during this difficult time as well.

Q: What’s the view from your new workspace window?

I just set up a workstation on my porch for days when the weather is nice! Spending time outdoors has been really therapeutic for me, and New Haven is beautiful at this time of year!

Q: What’s the one thing you look forward to when we return to West Campus?

I miss the research symposiums and social events that bring the whole community together! Now we have to get more creative. We will host our annual All Points West symposium in May on a virtual platform! (You can register for All Points West here)