an e-newsletter for students and alumni of saint michael's biology department

Student Spotlight
Q & A with a biology major


Stephanie Ketcham '08

North Clarendon, VT
    Career Interests: Research Scientist              




What has your Saint Michael's experience been like, in particular your experience as a biology major?

I have enjoyed my three and a half years at Saint Michaelís.  I have enjoyed getting to know my professors, both within the biology department and those I have had for liberal studies requirement courses.  The small classes made me feel that students were the focus, and that my success was not only important to me but also to the professors.  The opportunities here have been excellent.  My interest in lab and course work led me to an internship at Green Mountain Antibodies, as well as the opportunity to work with Professor Mark Lubkowitz on the oligopeptide transport research. 

While I feel that the biology and other science courses I have taken have prepared me to pursue several avenues after graduation, I am also glad that I took liberal studies courses.  Because of the general requirements I have taken courses that I probably would have avoided for various reasons, but through these classes I found that there were aspects of almost any topic that interest me.  Looking back there is really nothing that I would change about my college experience.

Explain your research project.

Currently I am working on a research project with Professor Lubkowitz.  Previously in Professor Lubkowitzís laboratory, it was verified that four Oligopeptide transporters (OPT) are expressed during the germination of rice embryos.  We are trying to determine what peptides are transported by individual OPTs.  To achieve this we are using a genetically modified strain of Sacchromyces cerevisiae that have been transformed with vectors containing individual OPT genes and have had endogenous amino acid synthesis genes removed. 

We are using these transformed strains of yeast in a growth assay.  By plating the transformed yeast onto agar with individual peptides it is possible to determine whether or not the OPT is able to transport the peptide based upon whether or not it is able to grow.  We recently had some positive results with one of the OPTs, so I am working on verifying this data in order to confirm that it is reproducible.

What are you planning to do after you graduate?

After graduation I am planning on attending graduate school to complete a Ph.D. program.  Currently I am in the middle of my interviews.  Itís really an exciting time, seeing the opportunities that I have, as well as getting to see all of the interesting research that is occurring across the country.  After completing a Ph.D. program I am planning on entering into a research career.

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