Carly Lay Geronimo, a 2011 graduate from the Mount, is a rising third year graduate student in the Molecular Biology Program at Princeton University. Last June, she joined the lab of Dr. Virginia Zakian, her advisor, and is studying telomerase regulation using budding yeast as the model organism.

Recently, she received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship award, which provides funding for Carly Lay for three years. Over 14,000 students apply and only 2,000 students are given awards. For more information about the program visit

When asked about her research, Carly Lay replied with the following statement: "For my research project, I am investigating the role of the Pif1 DNA helicase as a negative regulator of telomerase using the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as the model organism. Telomerase is a specialized enzyme whose essential function is to maintain telomeres, which are the physical ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. In cells that lack telomerase activity, telomeres progressively shorten with each round of DNA replication, and when the telomere reaches a critical length, most cells senesce and die. Thus, telomerase regulation is imperative for proper maintenance of the cell because misregulation can lead to replicative senescense, apoptosis, and compromised genome integrity. Pif1 is an important negative regulator of telomere length because Pif1 is the only helicase in yeast that has been shown to directly and catalytically inhibit telomerase. Therefore, the main objectives of my research project are to determine how Pif1 gets recruited to telomeres and to elucidate the mechanism behind Pif1 inhibition of telomerase."

We congratulate Carly Lay on this prestigious award and we expect many great things from her in the future!