Roberto Kaz '15 M.A. Science | Columbia Journalism School
Story and Career Evolution
He will publish a book in 2016 that profiles 20 different animals, one will be "Black 6" mouse.

Roberto Kaz '15 M.A. Science

One of the outside courses I took was on neuroscience and development. We read dozens of papers describing behavioral studies done on rats and mice. One of those papers had the name of the company that supplied the rodents. I looked at its website, and discovered a new world, with thousands of types of rats, mice and guinea pigs designed for scientific research and decided to write about one of those animals.  

But first, I had to choose if I would write about a rat or a mouse. My science seminar professor, Marguerite Holloway, suggested that I to consult Frances Champagne, a professor from the Psychology department. Professor Champagne explained to me that mice were by far more prevalent in labs than rats. Then I had to find one specific strain of mouse to profile. Geneticist Monica Justice, who had designed hundreds of new mouse models, told me that a strain called “Black 6” was the most-used mouse in medical research. Then came the biggest challenge: Finding one individual mouse from the “Black 6” whose story was worth telling. After months of searching, I learned that 45 “Black 6” mice had been sent to space in 2013 inside a Russian satellite. I knew my character would be there.    

Photo: Renato Parada