I’ve been a research student since my sophomore year, and have been graciously guided by Dr.Frederick Harrington on my project for maximizing fatty-acid synthesis in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, in order to commercialize biofuels. My experience started by reading a number of research articles about Acetyl-CoA, which is involved with lipid synthesis and Beta Keto-Acyl Thiolase, which is involved with lipid degradation. This is when I knew my learning went beyond that of a classroom setting.
After a semester of research, I was awarded a Fredonia summer research fellowship. By the time I started designing experiments, I had a vast amount of knowledge about the metabolic pathways of Clamydomonas reinhardtii, and was able to apply my knowledge of cell and molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry that I had learned from classes. I started experimentation by preparing buffers with potential metabolic inhibitors, and altered the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus for the highest lipid yields. In order to monitor transcription levels of Acetyl-CoA and Beta Keto-acyl Thiolase, I extracted RNA and applied reverse transcriptase to it, to synthesize its complementary DNA. When I started to analyze lipids that I had extracted, both Dr. Frederick Harrington and Dr. Matthew Fountain had encouraged me to learn spectroscopic methods, such as the GC-MS, HPLC, and the MALDI-TOF.
My interest in research had only grown after two semesters and one summer. During the end of my sophomore year, I applied to Dr. Catherine Creeley’s lab. I learned that the human fetus is exposed to various chemicals during critical periods of developments. Such drugs included caffeine, painkillers, antidepressants, alcohol, and sedatives. In order to understand these effects, we investigated early drug exposure on neonatal mice. The mice were exposed to lithium, a therapeutic drug administered to women who suffer from psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, mania, and bipolar disorders. During the fall semester of my junior year, it was a challenge to set up the lab, but a satisfying experience. I worked with six other members, which was much different than the lab I had been in because we each had to coordinate with one another. I had gotten insight into understanding the types of equipment required for a number of behavioral studies, and learning the software associated with them. It was an amazing experience to finally perform behavioral tests on the mice as they developed. We even had the opportunity to present at the 2015 Student Research and Creativity Exposition, and meet students in various departments of Fredonia to learn about their projects!
To be considered a member of the Fredonia Biology Department is an amazing feeling. This department treats its students like family. In addition to the substantial amount of aid available from the faculty, many of the senior students provide a ton of guidance to the younger students. I’ve been encouraged by so many people to pursue my passion in dentistry and research, and have been offered many opportunities each step of the way. With all the challenges ahead of you in your first year, it may seem difficult, but it will become manageable your efforts. Keep your goals close to your heart and dive in head-first. The experiences that follow are priceless.