Graduate Student Spotlight
Sara Lynn Farwell is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Cell & Molecular Biology program
Sara Lynn Nicole Farwell came to Lehigh in 2012 after earning two Bachelor of Science degrees in Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Toxicology from the Pennsylvania State University. She was particularly interested in the vascular biology research in the laboratory of Dr. Linda Lowe-Krentz, and she joined her laboratory two short weeks after graduation from Penn State. Sara Lynn was awarded a University Fellowship for her first year and was able to devote full time to developing her thesis project.
Heparin has been used as an anticoagulant for decades as part of the prevention and treatment for increasingly prevalent cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. Heparin also elicits potent anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects on the vasculature in vitro, but the molecular mechanism(s) of these effects remain unclear. Sara Lynn’s graduate work has been focused on elucidating these mechanisms using various models of endothelial cell physiology. She has found that heparin effects in endothelial cell require the recently identified heparin receptor, TMEM184A. In a recent manuscript published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, she shows that heparin specifically binds to a novel receptor transmembrane protein 184A (TMEM184A), and TMEM184A is required for anti-proliferative effects of heparin in vascular smooth muscle cells. Sara Lynn is also first author on a second manuscript which demonstrates a mechanism by which heparin requires TMEM184A to induce anti-inflammatory signaling in endothelial cells. The lab just published a paper and a video in the Journal of Visualized Experiments which expands upon the methods she developed in the Pugh, et al paper. Sara Lynn is currently working in collaboration with Dr. Kathy Iovine to evaluate the function of TMEM184A in an animal model. She is using the zebrafish regenerating tail fin as a model for angiogenesis. She has been awarded a Marjorie Nemes Fellowship, Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research, a Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award, and a Great Lakes Scholarship to provide important resources for this project.
Teaching and mentoring undergraduates has been an important part of her graduate career. Sara Lynn completed two levels of Teacher Development certification offered through Lehigh graduate school, and she learned to implement new pedagogical techniques. As a teaching assistant for, Sara Lynn enjoyed designing weekly modules to engage students in experiential and active learning of statistical principles. Furthermore, the nature of the projects in the Lowe-Krentz laboratory has always made impactful research accessible to undergraduates. Sara Lynn has had the opportunity to train and mentor over twenty undergraduates, one rotating graduate student, and one Master’s student in the Lowe-Krentz laboratory.
Sara Lynn was elected secretary for the Biological Organization for Graduate Students (BOGS) club in her second year. They organized several social and service events, and she was an author on the Core Competency Grant proposal application that made the first annual Biology Fair at Broughal Middle School possible. In her third year, she became the president of Lehigh University Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) club. As president, Sara Lynn worked to obtain funding and sponsorship to make WiSE an official club. With the help of an amazing executive committee, Sara Lynn established and advanced the mission of Lehigh WiSE to provide a safe space and programming for women in STEM to share ideas and strategies on various topics. Sara Lynn was awarded a Graduate Life Leadership Award for demonstrating exemplary commitment, leadership, and service to the Lehigh graduate student community.
Sara Lynn sang in the University Choir for three and a half years and even performed at Carnegie Hall in 2014. She now sings with Dolcissimae, a select group of women graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni who perform at Raise Your Voice, an annual celebration of women and the arts at Lehigh. Sara Lynn also sings occasionally with local jazz professionals and a small jazz band in her department.
In her free time, Sara Lynn enjoys playing chess and football with her husband. They also love to discover new restaurants and hidden gems in the Lehigh Valley.