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This edition of Unusual Labmates, our series on the species used for research at Whitehead Institute, focuses on fruit flies. Fruit flies may seem like pests when they are encountered in the wild. However, they have been used in research for more than a century, and in that time, they have been engineered to become powerful, malleable models capable of answering questions in many areas of research.

Whitehead Institute Member David Bartel’s lab has uncovered how a key shift in RNA regulation happens early in embryonic development, providing new insight into when and how genes are regulated differently during development.

Jessica Spinelli is a postdoc in Whitehead Institute Member David Sabatini’s lab studying how mitochondria function in low oxygen environments. We sat down with Spinelli to learn more about her and her experiences in and out of the lab.