First Person is a series of interviews with the first authors of a selection of papers published in Journal of Cell Science, helping researchers promote themselves alongside their papers. Shang-yang Chen is first author on ‘ C. elegans spermatocyte divisions show a weak spindle checkpoint response’, published in JCS. Shang-yang is a PhD student in the lab of Jui-ching Wu at National Taiwan University National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, investigating spindle checkpoint regulation in male meiotic division.

Shang-yang Chen

How would you explain the main findings of your paper in lay terms?

In multicellular organisms, cell division is a crucial process for growth and development. However, for cells to divide properly they require an effective safeguard system. Although most cells typically regulate cell division once in a cell cycle, meiotic division of male germ cells involves two consecutive divisions in rapid succession. The regulation of this mechanism remains unclear. Our work demonstrates that the safeguard system offers only moderate assurance of fidelity in the first division, with no protective mechanism in place for the second.

Were there any specific challenges associated with this project? If so, how did you overcome them?

Studying the regulatory system in the second male meiotic division poses challenges, as it is closely concealed by the first division, making it difficult to employ general genetic functional assays without activating its checkpoint. However, timely administration of specific small chemical drugs immediately after the cell completes the first division can bypass this issue, enabling investigation into the second division.

When doing the research, did you have a particular result or ‘eureka’ moment that has stuck with you?

When initially testing BUB-1 as a marker for kinetochore and checkpoint activity, it was fascinating to observe the rapid disassembly and subsequent realignment of the signal between the first and second division. This phenomenon perfectly suited our objective of establishing benchmarks for measuring meiotic duration. Without it, we might have struggled to find the subtle checkpoint response in this system.

Why did you choose Journal of Cell Science for your paper?

I chose Journal of Cell Science for my paper because of its prestigious reputation and its focus on high-quality research in the field of cell biology. Throughout my academic journey, I have come across many outstanding works published in Journal of Cell Science, all of which were commendable and inspiring. This makes me think that publishing in Journal of Cell Science will maximize the visibility and credibility of our research within the scientific community.

BUB-1–GFP reconstruction between the first and second male meiotic division.

BUB-1–GFP reconstruction between the first and second male meiotic division.

Have you had any significant mentors who have helped you beyond supervision in the lab? How was their guidance special?

I am grateful to my PhD mentor Dr Jui-ching Wu, for encouraging me for pursuing an academic career since my master's degree. I find it interesting to conceive and design experiments, utilizing a lesser-known, tiny organism to address significant scientific questions that have not yet been addressed.

What motivated you to pursue a career in science, and what have been the most interesting moments on the path that led you to where you are now?

The microscope device has fascinated me since childhood. It offers a unique perspective by revealing intricate details, sparking the imagination to explore further possibilities through its images. Observing with my eyes a single cell feels far more real than merely reading words in a textbook.

What's next for you?

First and foremost, my primary focus is to finish my PhD degree. I aim to pursue a postdoctoral role abroad, where I can apply my expertise in microscopy and cell biology to deepen my involvement in scientific research.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that wouldn't be on your CV

I cannot tolerate temperatures above 25 degrees or below 15 degrees. Perhaps my thermoregulation system isn't so different from that of C. elegans.

Shang-yang Chen's contact details: Rm521-7, Bldg.Lab.Med., NTU Hospital, No.1, Chang-Te St., Taipei 10048, Taiwan


C. elegans spermatocyte divisions show a weak spindle checkpoint response
J. Cell Sci.