Graduate Student Spotlight: Samuel Adeleye

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Tell me about yourself
My name is Samuel Adeleye, I am from Ondo State, Nigeria. I am an alumnus of CAC Grammar School Idanre and the Federal University of Technology Owerri. I am a member of the Yadavalli Lab and currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics program. I am married to Stephanie and love my family above all. I am also a passionate science lover. Interestingly, I love soccer, swimming, traveling, and playing video games.

How did you become interested in science?
My secondary school's biology teacher, Mrs. M.S. Oladehin, made me love biology, and ever since then, I knew my career will be in the field of biological sciences. Particularly, I was fascinated with how the hidden pillars of life called "microbes" control and/or support almost all life forms. This made me pursue a career in Microbiology since my family could not afford to send me to medical school. The motivation engendered my graduation with a First Class Bachelors degree and a perfect CGPA Masters (5.00/5.00) in Microbiology and Food/Industrial Microbiology respectively.

Did you do research as an undergraduate student?
Fueled by my curiosity and under the supervision of Prof L.E. Aririatu, I pioneered a study in my university that studies the potential of microorganisms to produce electricity from wastewater. This is termed Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) research. Using crude devices, I was able to follow specifications published by Prof Logan (then at Penn State University), and made an MFC that was able to power mini devices and produced an open-circuit voltage of 0.8V. This was the bedrock of my curiosity to see what more can microbes do and I then did a Masters in Food/Industrial microbiology where I saw many of such capabilities.

What are you researchinSam.Adelyeg?
My Ph.D. work is focused on understanding the basis of bacterial response to environmental stressors at a molecular level. E. coli grows as a short rod when there is no stressor (e.g., drugs) in its environment. However, when E. coli cells are exposed to a sublethal concentration of a drug (cationic antimicrobial peptide), they sense this molecule, stop dividing, and grow into long filaments. The expression of an enzyme called QueE is significantly increased under these conditions. QueE’s primary function is in the biosynthesis of a tRNA modification called queuosine but during the antimicrobial stress response, it also acts as a cell division inhibitor. 

My project investigates the dual roles of QueE in the cell by addressing the following questions: (1) How does QueE interact with the division machinery? (2) Is this function independent of its biosynthetic role in queuosine tRNA modification? (3) What are the pleiotropic effects of high QueE levels on cellular translation? (4) Finally, is there an advantage to cells arresting their growth and filamenting when they encounter the stressor? I use proteomic and specialized northern blotting techniques together with classical genetics and biochemical tools to answer these questions. Overall, my work will deepen our understanding of how a tRNA modification enzyme, QueE, can act as a regulatory link between translation and cell division, and stress response.

 

What do you like about being at Rutgers?
First, I was attracted by the friendliness of staff and students in the university. Notably, Carolyn (Ambrose) and Diane (Murano) made every international applicant feel at home already, the support is great. As a lover of science, knowing that Rutgers University Molecular Biosciences program has about 400 functional labs was very attractive. Next, besides being a top school globally, the school is so big and there are free buses running around. I love sports and the Rutgers recreational center got that covered in full capacity. Also, New York is roughly an hour away- a very good place to unwind. Finally, I love my Lab! My ever-supportive PI, Dr. Sam Yadavalli, lab members, and all the Waksman community. This place is home!