Student Spotlight: Dom Chomchai

Headshot of Dom ChomchaiHometown:

Mount Pleasant, MI

Year entered CMB program:



Bill Bement Lab


Brief Summary of Research:

I am studying the role of cortical excitability in cell division. Cortical excitability is characterized by the ability of proteins in the cell cortex to respond to and amplify signals from the cell. This amplification eventually leads to the formation of wavelike patterns of protein activity. My research aims to identify the mechanism of positive feedback for this process.

Awards and Publications:

Yang, X., Reist, L., Chomchai, D. A., Chen, L., Arines, F. M., & Li, M. (2021). ESCRT, not intralumenal fragments, sorts ubiquitinated vacuole membrane proteins for degradation. Journal of Cell Biology, 220(8). doi:10.1083/jcb.202012104

Yang, X., Zhang, W., Wen, X., Bulinski, P. J., Chomchai, D. A., Arines, F. M., . . . Li, M. (2020). TORC1 regulates vacuole membrane composition through ubiquitin- and ESCRT-dependent microautophagy. Journal of Cell Biology, 219(3). doi:10.1083/jcb.201902127

Why did you choose UW-Madison’s CMB Program?

I chose the UW-Madison CMB Program because it was the program had the best balance of great science and a fun lifestyle outside of the lab. I already knew of the CMB Program’s great reputation beforehand, but during my interview I got to experience Madison with a great group of current students that sold me on UW-Madison. Everyone during the weekend was genuinely enjoying their research and their time in the CMB Program, so I knew that I wanted to join that group.

What lessons have you learned throughout your graduate career so far?

Find a good balance between time spent in and outside of the lab. There are several times in the past where I have sacrificed my free time outside of the lab because I wanted to progress my research as quickly as possible, but I would find myself becoming burnt out. Eventually, I would be making more and more simple mistakes in the lab that actually slowed my research. I think it is extremely important to find a balance where you can still progress your research while also making sure that you enjoy what you do in the lab. Everybody’s balance is different, so find what works the best for you.

What advice would you give to a student applying to graduate school?

Have fun with the interviews. I was so nervous during my first interview weekend that I was anxious talking to all the professors. I learned over the span of interview season that the interviews are not much more than a conversation about science. It made the following interview weekends more enjoyable and I had a great time visiting all the different campuses and meeting many different people.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

My birthday (July 17) is the same day that is displayed on the Apple calendar emoji.

When you are not in the lab, you are…….?

Hanging out with friends or exercising. I enjoy just hanging out, watching the bachelor/bachelorette, playing tennis, and going on camping trips with my friends. Madison is also one of the most active cities in the US, so also enjoy just going out on a run or a bike ride and seeing all the friendly Midwesterners.

What is your favorite memory so far in the CMB Program?

My favorite memory so far in the CMB Program was orientation week. Although all the presentations were virtual (Covid), I still felt that I got to learn a lot about everyone in my cohort. We met up every night after the long days of presentations to go to the park and eat dinner together. I have yet to experience a CMB retreat, but from what I have heard I suspect that will replace orientation as my favorite memory.