Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Senior, B.S. in Biological Sciences
“I really enjoy learning how things work and majoring in biological sciences allows me to explore this interest.”
I was first introduced to Carnegie Mellon University as a junior in high school, during a trip to visit my older sister, a CMU student at the time. By attending classes with her, I was able to gain a true sense of what it would be like to enroll here. After debating between a few colleges, I reflected upon my visit and knew that I felt most comfortable at CMU.
During my first-year, I was torn between majoring in Chemistry or Biological Sciences. I ultimately choose biological sciences. However, I still have the freedom to combine both of my interests, due to CMU’s interdisciplinary nature. For instance, I have worked in the chemistry lab of Assistant Professor Subha Das for the past year and a half.
Within the Das lab, I am studying the hepatitis delta virus (HDV) ribozyme active site network using a chemo-genetic analysis. In particular, I site-specifically replace single oxygen atoms with sulfur atoms within the HDV ribozyme active site. These site-specific mutations alter the active site network and have an effect on the rate of cleavage. By using both wild-type and hyperactivated substrates, I can couple the site-specific mutation to its effect on ribozyme function.
In addition to working in the Das lab throughout the academic year, I was also fortunate enough to be chosen to participate in the HHMI Scholars program last summer. This program offered me the opportunity to focus on research full-time. I didn’t have to stop in the middle of an experiment, and then try to remember where I left off a few days later, like I did during the academic year. The HHMI Scholars program also included a capstone poster session and presentation. These events provided invaluable experience in talking to other scientists and explaining my research.
I was able to utilize my presentation knowledge while attending my first professional conference last fall. I presented a poster of my research at the Rustbelt RNA Conference in Ohio.
Not only do I participate in research, but I am also a member of the Tartan swim team. Even though being a student athlete can be challenging at times, I can’t imagine college without it. My teammates are my best friends and a great support system.
After graduation, I would like to attend either veterinarian school or focus on Biochemistry in graduate school.