Michael Chen-Department of Biological Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Michael Chen

2011 Ph.D. in Biological Sciences Alumnus

"...interaction among labs, among faculty and among students really fosters a sense of community in the department"

In May of 2006, I officially joined the lab of Dr. Javier Lopez to begin my doctoral research project. Currently, I'm working on a number of projects, trying to narrow down what I want to focus on. My research mainly uses molecular biology to look at the large-scale effects of recursive gene splicing on cell function and development in Drosophila melanogaster. So far, I've had some really exciting results and I look forward to narrowing down my project even further.

Finishing up my first year as a Ph.D. student is quite an accomplishment. My fellow first year students and I bonded over rotations, the core course in Biochemistry, and student happy hours. The core course in Biochemistry introduces you topics in biology that you may not be familiar with. The most helpful aspect of the Biochemistry core course, besides all the relevant reading we had to keep up with, was that it was co-taught by five different faculty members, all of whom had different approaches and methods to research. Also, the three rotations that, as a first year student, I was required to complete introduced me to three distinct approaches to solving biological problems. For example, Dr. Chuck Ettensohn explained his molecular approaches to studying development in sea urchins while Dr. Tina Lee demonstrated how she uses biochemistry to look at ER exit sites. It's refreshing how the people in within the department move among techniques and methods to achieve results.

The overlap of methods is one of the main reasons that I decided to come to Carnegie Mellon. Also, I was looking for a close-knit, friendly community. I enjoy being able to walk right upstairs to see what's going on in another lab - we are always welcome! The interaction among labs, among faculty and among students really fosters a sense of community in the department.

B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Washington