After meeting with the principal investigators, Dr. Michael and Becky Terns, I joined the lab and have been actively conducting research since. My research project focuses on a prokaryotic immune system that specifically targets and interferes with exogenous genetic elements such as viruses, transposable elements, and/or plasmids. My specific role is to uncover the intricacies of the CRISPR-Mediated Viral Defense System in Streptococcus thermophilus, a yogurt fermenting bacterium. I came to be involved in my research over a year ago after having been introduced to genetic research in an introductory undergraduate research project funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. I had such a wonderful experience performing this early research that I wanted to continue to challenge myself intellectually and participate in the discovery of new knowledge. I began to look into various labs in the biochemical and genetics departments and choose one that sparked my interest.
My research mentors are Dr. Michael and Becky Terns of the Biochemistry and Genetics Department. My mentors have played a vital role in my growth as an undergraduate student and scientist. Constantly challenging me along the way, the Terns have guided me through the entire learning process and have continued to critique my performance as I excel in my research. I have developed a strong professional relationship with my research mentors, which has given me a great sense of confidence and helped me to find my niche at the University. Both Dr. Michael and Becky Terns care very much for their undergraduate students, taking the time to fully explain intricate details to ensure a better understanding.
Research has been the most exciting and fulfilling pursuit I have undertaken thus far as an undergraduate, and I aim to continue such research in the future as a medical student and physician. The experimentation that I conduct has provided me an avenue with which I am able to apply the knowledge I have learned in class. I have been able to interact one on one with my research mentors and learn from their vast understanding of biochemistry and genetics. Conducting such research has allowed me to grow significantly as a premedical student and has shown me the limitless possibilities in science, including the discovery of new scientific techniques and methods. The process with which research is carried out has also trained me to think critically, impressing for more effective experimental design and data analysis. Furthermore, my exploration into research has taught me to manipulate my understanding of biochemistry and genetics to create new protocols and techniques.