Once, only a short while ago, a young girl streaked her hand through the parsley and chives in her mother’s garden, admiring their vibrant green. She used sticks to build castles for the ants and under sunny skies she raced through swaying cornstalks, awaiting a new world on the other side. In this world her curiosity thrived, and her desire to answer why repaved the path of her future. The girl was a military child, whisked around the world many times before finally settling at a university she desperately hoped to call home. And a home it was; a place from which the story continues today.
Never spending a long time in the same place was not an aspect of my life that I foresaw as a pivotal contribution to who I am today. But I am certain that it built the foundation of my work ethic, training skills, teamwork, and leadership. Switching schools often taught me to work hard and adjust quickly while constantly meeting new people taught me to consider new ideas and eventually step up to share my own.
The motivation to pursue a career in biology arose at a young age and continued to evolve as I learned to foster my knowledge through observation of the world around me. I became fascinated with the realization that we are surrounded by invisible microenvironments home to innumerable bacteria influencing the health of our bodies. I knew that I wanted to know more about these bacteria. And after performing a vector cloning experiment in high school biology, I concluded that the answers to what I wanted to know were hidden deep inside each bacterial cell. Somehow an evolutionarily-derived blueprint of nucleotides was governing every aspect of bacterial survival and I needed to understand that governance.
Upon beginning my undergraduate study at Michigan Tech, I immediately sought out opportunities to learn about cell biology and molecular genetics. With each new course I felt like I was turning the fine adjustment knob on biology. Always seeing more about the big picture, but never off my toes in response to how many new complexities would come into focus. Being someone who enjoys complexity and detail, I fell in love with this aspect of biology and considered it my personal ‘new world’ waiting for further discovery.
In my third year, when I took my first course in microbiology, the deal on where my further discoveries would take place was sealed. The enthralling nature of the topics combined with my professor’s unwavering enthusiasm for teaching us about microorganisms instilled in me the desire to take
My undergraduate study in medical laboratory science (MLS) has given me a unique glimpse into how these microorganisms are able to specialize their survival to accommodate the human host as well as how they contribute to pathogenesis. From courses in microbiology, medical bacteriology, and microbial physiology, I have learned that interactions between humans and their microflora are a delicate balancing act.
In the future, I aspire to study the lives of these organisms, understand the genetic blueprints that help them overcome innate human defenses, and help design methods to increase community awareness about how to challenge those genetics.
I began my pursuit of scientific research during my second year of college. After (blank), switching majors, and ultimately realizing MLS was the perfect place for me, I knew something else was missing. One day, on my way to organic chemistry lab, I came across a bulletin board listing undergraduate research opportunities. I decided to email one of the professors and was soon invited to her lab’s group meeting where everyone shared their experiences and told me about their research. I was thrilled, and soon after started working in the Tanasova laboratory which had a project that focused on the effects of adenine alkylation on DNA transcription. My project was designed to utilize the laboratory skills and techniques I had learned through courses in my major and fine tune them to be applicable in the research environment. My first semester focused on teaching me new and complex procedures while also preparing me to eventually formulate my own ideas about my project. I learned how to prepare reagents, operate the MerMade 12 DNA/RNA Synthesizer, and design efficient loading solutions to optimize band visualization on DNA electrophoresis gels. Because the other undergraduates in my lab graduated a semester after I started, I was given the opportunity to work amongst a group of graduate students who encouraged me to work independently, rely on my skillset, and determine how to progress my project by relying on more thoughtful interpretations of my results.