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Meet The Scientists Charles Halfmann

Charles “Chuck” Halfmann PhD is a Staff Scientist in the Roux Lab at Sanford Research. The Roux Lab investigates the structure and function of the nuclear envelope and seeks to understand its role in health and disease.
Chuck grew up in Luverne, Minnesota, which is just a short drive from Sanford Research in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After graduating from Luverne High School in 2005, he attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in microbiology and a PhD in Biological Sciences.


Tell us a little bit about your job. What projects are you working on? What takes up most of your time?

I work on many projects, all which focus on the biology of the nuclear envelope.  The nuclear envelope is an important eukaryotic organelle that encloses the chromosomes of the cell, which serves to separate the nucleus from the cell cytosol and maintain the nucleus as a distinct biochemical compartment. I’m currently interested in how loss of the nuclear envelope’s barrier function plays a role in human disease, as well as researching how the cell regulates the transport of molecules through the nuclear envelope.  Most of my time is on the microscope where I image cells, but I also spend a lot of time on the back end with image analysis, protein and DNA analysis, as well as reading papers and writing.


What are some tasks that you do frequently?

Apart from the basic benchtop research, the one task that I probably do most often is constantly critiquing my results from experiments:  Do they make sense?  How do they fit into the larger framework of the biology we study? What should we be looking at next?   


What is your favorite part of your job?

The people are the best, hands down.  I work with a skilled group of researchers who make my job fun.


What part of your job do you dislike?

I think anyone will tell you that the worst part of research is when you spend a large amount of time on an experiment and it doesn’t work, or you get results that do not make sense.  It happens from time to time, and can be extremely deflating, but it’s important to persevere. 


What do you do for fun outside of work?

Growing up in the Midwest I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and I spend time pheasant hunting in the fall and ice fishing during the winter.  During the summer, my wife Alyssa and I take our two boys, Lachlan (7) and Lukas (1), camping with family and friends.  I’ve also been an avid guitar player since I was 13, and enjoy playing rock music from the 90’s and 00’s.


What inspires you?

A good song in my heart.


What advice would you give to high school students interested in a career in research?

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, seek them out.  Talk to your teachers about opportunities to get into a lab so you can get a feel for if research is the career path you want to take.


Do you have a favorite scientist?

There are so many influential scientists out there it’s hard to just name one.  Aside from the obvious greats, I’ve always enjoyed science authors and speakers who could educate people on their craft. Richard Feynman was a fantastic, charismatic teacher, he had a great speaking style and could explain complex concepts to people unfamiliar in physics.  Carl Sagan talking about the universe is almost poetry rather than science.  Brian Greene and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are also excellent authors and educators in physics and the natural world.  The list goes on from there.

Career Path:

Bachelor of Science Degree from South Dakota State University

PhD in Biological Sciences from South Dakota State University

Photo of Roux Lab members