What has your
Saint Michael's experience been like, particularly your experience
as a biology major?
My experience at Saint Michaelís College has been one of growth and
development, both personally and academically. As a transfer student
in the beginning of my second year of college, I struggled to set up
a solid foundation in my courses as well as with friends. After
gaining a true grasp of what a liberal arts education is all about,
I began to establish my roots, both inside and outside of the
classroom. I came to Saint Mikeís with a plan to become an
orthopedic surgeon, but after my biology professors opened my eyes
to the large variety of disciplines within the biological sciences,
I fell in love with cellular/molecular biology as well as the areas of
physiology and anatomy. It is for these reasons that I have
developed a newly founded passion for biomedical sciences. In truth,
I have found true joy in bridging the gaps among the various fields
of education, as well as opening dialogue with my professors to help
me grow personally and academically.
Explain your research project.
I worked with two other students and Professor Mark Lubkowitz on a
detailed investigation of how the nutrients necessary for embryonic
development in seeds are transported from the endosperm (nutrient
storage location) to the embryo. In cereal grains like corn, rice,
and wheat, the endosperm is chiefly comprised of proteins and
starches. These nutrients are the main source of amino acids needed
to produce the protein-dependent structures during development that
are necessary to properly grow and sustain viability. In order for
these amino acids to reach the embryo in a seed, they must be
transported from the endosperm. The direct mechanism for the
transport of these amino acids is currently unknown but is crucial
in the successful maturation of these plants.
We focused on extracting RNA from yeast colonies that contain
various oligopeptide transporters (OPTs) and reverse transcribing
the RNA into cDNA to create a library of the genes encoding for
transporter proteins. Simultaneously we worked with these OPTs in
order to test which specific nutrients they are responsible for
transporting. I also worked with OPT-9 to test its role in
transporting glutathione. By obtaining these data we hope to
understand the mechanism responsible for the transport of these
critical nutrients in the plants that play a significant role in our
What are your post-graduate plans?
I will attend the Boston University School of Medicine (Department
of Graduate Medical Sciences) to study biomedical forensics. This
unique degree opportunity allows me to hone in on the areas of biology that I am
truly interested in and to continue working as a research assistant
which I have come to really enjoy, this time in a hospital setting.