Dorothy Lobo, Ph.D.

“I’m doing what I always wanted to do.”

That’s how Dorothy “Dottie” Lobo, Ph.D. (Hutter) ’93 talks about her work as an associate professor of biology at Monmouth University in West Lon Branch, NJ.

“I really enjoy being in a classroom and seeing the ‘ah-ha’ moments that occur when students understand a concept,” said Lobo. “The most rewarding aspect of my job is interacting with the students, advising them and helping them decide on a career path that is a good fit for them.”

Lobo teaches general, molecular and microbiology to undergrads; carries out basic cancer research with them, and conducts work currently supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Finding time to conduct research with the undergraduate students can be difficult,” said Lobo. “Learning how to use the equipment and perform molecular biology experiments is not the easiest thing for them.

“However, when the students are able to present their work at national conferences or publish their research in a journal, it is very rewarding.”

Lobo remembers that one of her professors at Immaculata, Dr. Piatka, “seemed to really enjoy her job. Dr. Piatka taught some of the most challenging courses, but the material was always presented in a very understandable manner. She was also extremely patient with our many mistakes in lab. And now that I am a faculty member myself, I realize how much patience it takes to teach.

“Sister Marian B. Monahan was also very influential,” said Lobo. “She really encouraged each of us in my class to strive for our goals, even if we thought it may not be possible. She used to tell us to be sure that we used our biology education to do something to benefit God’s people, animals or creation, and I hope that I am doing a good job with this task.”

The NIH grant Lobo received is to study the role of proteins called mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatases (MKPs) in the regulation of cellular proliferation. “Our laboratory is studying protein pathways in cancerous cells and ‘normal’ cells to identify some of the differences in signaling that may be occurring…we measure the activity of various signaling proteins to identify differences that may lead to unregulated growth, as occurs in cancer.” Lobo noted that the research she does today grew from seeds planted and nourished at Immaculata. “Dr. Martin’s class was the first one that introduced me to independent research, and I remember starting to learn scientific writing from Dr. Martin and Sister Jane Anne’s laboratory reports.

“I had a wonderful education at IU,” said Lobo, who graduated with a B.A. in biology. “It really prepared me well for graduate school. Amazingly, I started my graduate program at Catholic University of America at the same time as Sister Susan Cronin, who is now teaching at IU. It was really nice to have Sister there with me! When I met her at Catholic U, it was like having a friend from home again.”

When Lobo finished at CUA, she completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (the National Institute on Aging) in Baltimore, MD. She then did a teaching fellowship at Villanova University for two years. According to Lobo, “After my experience at Villanova, I felt prepared to look for a tenure-track position.”

The job at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ seemed to be perfect. “It was in the area of cell/molecular biology, close to my family, and one mile from the Atlantic Ocean in a really nice part of New Jersey. It was a good fit,” said Lobo. “I knew that I wanted to teach at a smaller school. I enjoyed the personal interaction I had with faculty at Immaculata, and I wanted to be in a similar atmosphere.”

Lobo took a semester’s leave of absence to stay home with her son, Paul, who was born in November 2011, and her 2-year-old daughter, Carmen. “As a female in science, it is a challenge to balance family life with work,” said Lobo, even with the help of her supportive husband, Maurice. “My children will always be my priority.

“I strive to do my best in my academic position, but I know that there are ‘limits’ to how much research progress I can make.”

Though Lobo no longer dedicates her nights and weekends to finishing research as she has in the past, she is confident and content with her choices. “I am satisfied that I am giving my best effort to my position with the time and resources that I have.”

And, knowing that, she can say with complete conviction, “I absolutely love my job!”

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