In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in more detail here on our blog. Today, meet Kate Laskowski ’06, biological sciences and chemistry, scientist at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, and this year’s Outstanding Alumna in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences.
Kate Laskowski ’06, biological sciences and chemistry, had plans for veterinary school when she enrolled at UMBC, and figured that experience as an undergraduate researcher could only help with the application process. When she got to the lab, however, she realized what she “really wanted to keep doing — which was more research!” As an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Jeff Leips’ lab, Laskowski helped research genetic aging patterns in the Drosophila species of fruit fly, and kicked off the lab’s work with parasitoid wasps, picking up an Undergraduate Research Award and presenting at an international conference in Wales along the way. In her doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she studied the evolutionary origins of animal personality traits in the threespine stickleback. Now, as a scientist at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Germany, she’s continuing her research into behavior and social interactions among fish species. “It turns out competition and cooperation among group members is a key driver for animal personalities,” she writes, “which I think resonates quite nicely with our own human experience.” In her own human experience, Laskowski, who has been living in Germany for four years with the help of a grant from the German Science Foundation, credits adjusting to life in another country and learning a new language as some of her biggest personal accomplishments.