Meet the Cancer Detectives—a team of scientists at the Skala Lab who develop new ways to treat cancer using laser microscopes. In the resources below, you’ll learn about these scientists and their lab, discover why their research matters in real life, and try out an activity. Take notes as you explore!
Learn Why Research Matters
The Skala Lab studies cancer and develops new ways to treat it. In the following video, you’ll learn about why they research this through a real-world story about a high-school student who lost her dad to pancreatic cancer when she was in middle school.
Kat is stepping up to make a difference. What other problems do you think science could solve? What steps could you take to get involved?
Kat wanted to learn as much as she could about cancer. What do you already know about cells and about cancer? What do you want to know about cancer?
“Nothing feels better than to actually make a difference in the thing that’s so problematic for you.”
— Kat Zahed
Meet The Scientists
Meet the Cancer Detectives. Flip over their cards to learn more about them (and discover their secret superpower)! Who do you relate to the most?
There are 4 cards to read.
I am a professor at UW-Madison in Biomedical Engineering. I mentor people in my lab to become independent researchers, set the direction of our research, and communicate our results to the scientific community. 🔬
I can find a silver lining and keep joy in science. ⛅
I love watching hummingbirds from my kitchen table, it’s very exciting!
I like to understand why cells do what they do. It’s like I’m figuring out their secrets. 🗝️
My 7th grade math teacher made us stand up for the entire class if we were late (he was a former marine, so it checks out). I was never late for that class!
I take images with our microscope and run data analysis on them. I’m always trying to answer this question: how do changes to mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) impact our microscopes measurements of cells? 🦠
Endurance and perseverance
I have the power to keep researching even when things just aren’t working.
I love sitting next to an open window and watching lightning when it is thunder-storming outside. ⚡
I really like studying new and better ways to do image analysis, there is so much to learn from a single image.
In my middle school biology class we had to make an edible cell project. I hollowed out a watermelon, filled it with jello and made candy organelles. The mitochondria were made out of jelly beans! 🍉
I take images of different types of cells found in tumors and create computer programs to understand how each cell type behaves in the tumor. 🖥️
Perseverance and Imagination
I am driven to keep exploring problems from many different angles, even when I run into dead ends.
I love hedgehogs and want one as a pet! 🦔
I enjoy discovering new things about how our immune systems work.
In a middle school after-school club, I programmed Lego robots to compete against other robots in completing specific tasks. 🤖
I am a stem cell engineer. I generate human tissues with stem cells in the hope of repairing damaged organs. 🧬
Endurance and Curiosity
I hope for the best and plan for the worst.
I love nature. Nature never fails to amaze me! 🌿
You can generate a real beating heart with stem cells. It’s amazing! 💓
In middle school science class we stained onion cells and observed them under a microscope. I was amazed by the small world of a cell!