Office of Science Engagement
Office of Science Engagement
“When I first started in the lab, I had learned more about molecular biology after 3 weeks of research than I did after 3 years of undergraduate education.”
I am graduating in May 2016. I will be staying at the University for a year to teach CHEM 213W full-time and finish my projects in the Llinás Lab as I figure out my future plans.
I was in a spring advising meeting when I was first introduced to undergraduate research through Section 006 of BMB 488, which covers “Host:Microbe Interactions.” Now, this is an extremely broad topic; and I didn’t really know what to expect. It wasn’t until I sat down for the interview when I was told of the possibility of studying malaria. I have always been fascinated by human disease, so this idea immediately caught my attention. And to study such a devastating epidemic like malaria – now that sounded like something really special, so I jumped on the opportunity.
Meeting my P.I., Dr. Manuel Llinás, was actually a chance encounter. At the interview, I was told that I would be placed in one of three labs that studies host:microbe interactions. A few weeks later, I found out that I would start working for Manuel in the Fall semester. Manuel’s lab is the only one of the three that focuses on human malaria; so I consider myself extremely lucky that I was given this opportunity to work here. Thus far, the experience has been extremely rewarding.
“Get involved with your lab. Don’t just be “the undergraduate,” be an active member! Go to group meetings, go to journal clubs, write grants, present posters, interact with the postdoctorate fellows and graduate students”
When I first started in the lab, I had learned more about molecular biology after 3 weeks of research than I did after 3 years of undergraduate education. It’s one thing to sit through a lecture about cloning, PCR, or CRISPR and get an A on the test a few weeks later; but applying these techniques in lab to answer an actual research question really changes your appreciation for molecular biology and biochemistry.
Research completely changed my post-college plans. Prior to working for Manuel, I was your typical “I totally want to go to medical school!” undergraduate student. Now, I’m thinking about a slightly different route. I realized that I can accomplish a lot more, and do a lot more good for humanity, by continuing research. I’m not quite sure when I will try to get my Ph.D., as I still have projects to finish in the Llinás Lab. But I am certain that my curiosity and critical thinking will allow me to flourish in a research setting and tackle the most challenging research questions that come my way.
Get involved with your lab. Don’t just be “the undergraduate,” be an active member! Go to group meetings, go to journal clubs, write grants, present posters, interact with the postdoctorate fellows and graduate students – do anything that gets you more involved in the field and more comfortable with being in a research setting. Once you immerse yourself in the lab, you are more likely to encounter enough support and insight for becoming a better scientist.
Dr. Tomalei Vess
Dr. Ann Marie Daniel