What has your
Saint Michael's experience been like, in particular your experience
as a biology major?
Saint Mike's has been a blast academically. For one
thing, we get a nice, broad sampling of many subjects. At first I
was a little wary of the liberal studies requirements, but I've really enjoyed
getting introduced to fields that were largely unfamiliar to me. It
also helps put my own major in context and shows me the importance
and relevance of all disciplines. As far as the biology program
itself, it's great. I love the accessibility of the professors and
thus the opportunities to form relationships with them. I also
appreciate the emphasis professors place on the experimental side of
biology, I think it's important to be aware of how we get our
information. Finally, the professors genuinely care about the
students and want them to succeed, not just in the biology classes
but in life beyond Saint Mike's, and they really invest themselves
to this end.
Explain your research project.
I'm working with another student and Professor Mac Lippert on
investigating a phenomenon
called transcription associated mutation (TAM), which means that
when a gene is highly transcribed, the spontaneous mutation rate at
that gene is significantly increased. This is important because many
important health issues have their basis in genetic mutations,
We're using yeast that have a defective gene in the lysine synthesis
pathway, which we plate on lysine deficient media so that if any
yeast grow we know they underwent a mutation in that gene and were
able to synthesize their own lysine. From counting how many cells
mutated and thus survived, we can determine the mutation rate for
that strain. We also collect the DNA from these cells and sequence
it so we know what the mutation was. We're looking at a few
different strains, each with a gene knockout for a different DNA
repair-associated protein. By comparing the data for each strain,
we'll hopefully learn what the effects of these proteins are on TAM
and thus gain a better understanding of its mechanisms.
What are you planning to do after you graduate?
I've been on the fence between medical school and graduate school
for a while now, but I'm beginning to lean towards graduate school,
in part because of my positive experience with research this summer.
I haven't applied to anything or taken any entrance exams yet, so at
this point I'll have to take a year off and find a job. I'll
probably apply to cellular/molecular programs in that time, and then
spend the next few years figuring out the right path for me to