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CRS Scientist Spotlight on Nathaniel Henning

The CRS provides an incredible array of potential collaborators and an extremely supportive environment to PhD students. ”

Nathaniel Henning


Name: Nathaniel Henning

Position: DPG Graduate Student

Thesis mentor: Dr. Monica Laronda, PhD

Thesis title: The Ovary: Physical and Biochemical Properties Controlling Folliculogenesis


What brought you to join the CRS community and what is your current position?

I’m a graduate student in the Driskill Graduate Program Laronda Lab, currently I’m halfway through my sixth year and am requesting permission to write my thesis mid-December. I joined the Laronda lab doing my lab rotations.

Could you describe your research?

The Laronda lab focuses on Fertility Hormone Preservation and Restoration for pediatric cancer and differences in sexual development patients. I primarily work on the bioengineering side of the lab examining the contribution of biochemical and physical cues of the ovary to follicle activation and folliculogenesis and how those cues can be incorporated in 3D printed scaffolds and next generation ovarian bioprosthetics.

What aspect(s) of CRS do you find most valuable?

I really enjoy seeing the weekly Reproductive Research Updates. It lets me see the breadth of the field of reproductive sciences when it would otherwise be very easy to get siloed into focusing on just the matrisome and bioengineering that are central to my thesis work.

What has been the most valuable aspect to your training as a reproductive scientist?

The CRS provides an incredible array of potential collaborators and an extremely supportive environment to PhD students. Working on a bioengineering project means working at the interface between multiple different fields and those collaborations are essential to my success as a scientist and trainee. I’ve also been very fortunate to find not only collaborators but also extremely valuable mentors during my time as a member of the center.

What is one piece of advice you would give to young scientists starting in their journey in science?

Be ready to fail and to learn from your failure. Failure isn’t a bad thing, there’s always something to learn from the troubleshooting process. Part of working on the edge of human knowledge is realizing that you don’t always know where you’re going and that means you can make missteps along the way.

What do you think will be the next big contribution in the reproductive biology field?

Organs on a chip like the EVATAR system or newer generations like what Dr. Julie Kim’s lab is working on are going to revolutionize the way that we do in vitro experiments. Beyond that I think there’s ongoing developments and understandings of how the ovarian microenvironment can be investigated that will feed into the next generation of artificial ovaries.

What hobbies do you have outside of the lab?

I play video games and play a lot of Warhammer 40,000 which is a tabletop miniature wargame. The tabletop wargaming in particular is nice because it involves leveraging the artistic side of my brain as it involves painting and assembling miniatures.