What created your interest in Biology?
I have always been interested in science in general—originally, I wanted to be a chemist, but Biology won me over with the wide-ranging scope of biological systems, from relationships between populations to interactions at the molecular level. I'm amazed by the intricate and diverse mechanisms of life on earth. Basically, I think all the complicated things going on inside living organisms are really cool.
What do you enjoy most about your studies or research?
I like doing hands on research in the lab. It's exciting to be able to test hypotheses and see some sort of result in a very physical form, like bacterial colonies on a plate or bands in a gel. It's also nice to be doing something with my hands as well as my brain, especially after sitting in classes all day. The other thing I like most about lab work is the people—everyone in the lab I work in is brilliant, fun, and always helpful.
Why did you choose UT's School of Biological Sciences?
UT provides great research opportunities, with lots of people doing many different things—one of the benefits of a large school. Also, I was attracted to the Dean's Scholars Natural Sciences Honors program because of its size (a close-knit community in this big school), stimulating courses and emphasis on research.
What's your favorite research tool?
I've always thought PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is really cool. It plays an important role in my experiments, and I like the idea that Taq polymerase is getting so much work done for me!
What are your career goals?
Next year I'll be off to grad school to begin work toward my PhD, and eventually I think I'd like to be a professor in some branch of biological sciences. Mainly, my goal is to be interested in what I do, and to work in a stimulating and rewarding environment.
Are there any awards or special events related to your work that you'd like to share?
This year I received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship from UT and the University Co-op, and I recommend that any undergraduate doing research apply. It's good practice for future applications. I also received an MGM (Molecular Genetics and Microbiology) Scholar award this year, for which my PI, Dr. Shelley Payne, recommended me. I really enjoy working in her lab, and I appreciate the positive feedback from her and from the department.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spend time with friends and family, read, enjoy the great outdoors.
What fun activity would you recommend to an incoming UT student?
Go to the beach! There are some really pretty spots along the shoreline of Lake Travis, and going to the lake feels like a wonderful escape on a sunny day.