Maria Thelma Ocampo, 29
Postdoc, London Research Institute


HOMETOWN: Manila, Philippines, until she was 8 years old, then Arleta, Calif.

WORK/RESEARCH: Ocampo works on DNA packaging and the cohesion complex that holds sister chromatids together until they segregate during cell division. "It's basic science," she says. "If we understand how it works, then we are better prepared to understand what goes wrong during cancer."

REPRESENTATIVE PAPER: M.T. Ocampo-Hafalla et al., "Repair of thymine glycol by hNth1 and hNeil1 is modulated by base pairing and cis-trans epimerization," DNA Repair, 5:444-54, 2006.

GOAL: Mentors guided every step of Ocampo's career, and she intends to return the favor. "I want to be a lab head in an academic setting and interact with students."

KEY MOMENT: Ocampo's first taste of research came when she won first place in the Los Angeles County Science Fair. "We tried to fuse carrot...

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