As an undergraduate, I worked with professors and graduate students who gave their time and energy to help me develop research questions and carry out independent research projects. Now that I am in a position where I can mentor students, I try to involve as many undergraduate students as possible in my research projects. Students work with me as research apprentices, helping out with standard laboratory and greenhouse experiments, or take on their own research projects related to my research. The following are a few undergraduate students I have had the pleasure of working with.
Kyla applied for the University of Vermont’s Office of Undergraduate Research Summer Research Award in the spring of 2014. The OUR Summer Research Award is a highly-competitive award open to all students in the College of Arts and Sciences that offers up to $5,000 to help students conduct independent research projects. Kyla wrote a proposal to study whether a keystone species, the mosquito larva Wyeomyia smithii, buffers against regime shifts in the Sarracenia purpurea microecosystem. She was one of 16 students awarded out of over 100 applicants. Kyla successfully carried out her experiment and will present her findings at the UVM Student Research Conference in April 2015.
Jéssica is a biochemistry major from Brazil, studying abroad at Saint Michael’s college. She is currently using SDS-PAGE to screen for proteins that change in expression as the S. purpurea microecosystem changes from an oxic state to a hypoxic state. The proteins she identifies will be subjected to tandem mass spectrometry and AQUA peptide analysis to quantify changes in their expression. We hope that these proteins can serve as biomarkers for impending regime shifts in the S. purpurea microecosystem.
I firmly believe that all people should have equal access to education, whatever their story. As a person who has overcome significant personal challenges and benefitted greatly from the encouragement of others, I recognize that our personal stories influence the way we feel about ourselves and the way other people see us, and that both of these things impact our success. My philosophy is that many students have the capacity to be great scientists, but not all have the confidence or institutional support needed to succeed. I want to help slowly build the confidence necessary for a career in the STEM fields by reaching out to students of diverse backgrounds and engaging them in meaningful research.
Diversity outreach activities:
November 2014 – STEM Diversity Institute’s Research Opportunities Fair
June 2013 – Graduate Student Panel, Harvard Forest REU Program