Natalie Turner 2Major: Genetics

Certificate: Computational Genetics

Minor: Evolutionary Anthropology

Graduation Year: 2020

How did you decide on your major?

Coming into Rutgers, I knew I was interested in biology, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with it. I was also interested in computer science and was looking for ways to pursue computer science within the context of biology. The genetics department gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my two interests. I was leaning towards the genetics major after taking biology 115 and 116 my freshman year, since my absolute favorite parts of those classes were the genetics components. When I heard there was an opportunity to do a computational genetics certificate, I knew this department was right for me.

What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appeals to you?

The most amazing thing about this department is the opportunities that it provides for undergrads to participate in real research. All the professors I’ve had in the genetics department share amazing stories about their own research and why they are passionate about genetics and really encourage students to get involved. One of my professors that I had for a genetics elective even went out of her way to help me find a lab that fit my own personal interests.

Another reason why Genetics appeals to be is because it is so relevant. Genetics has implications in almost every other field of biological science, from ecology to biomedical research. I feel as though the knowledge and skills that I am learning in the Genetics major can be applied to nearly any field that I am interested in. Whether I end up at a biotech company designing technology for hospitals to use, or I end up in ecology studying genetic drift due to climate change, I feel like what I’m learning in the genetics major is extremely relavent.

Do you have a favorite class/professor within your major?

My favorite class within the genetics major has been Developmental Genetics with Dr. Barr. It was the first elective I took after completing the introductory classes. It was amazing to learn how all of the techniques I had learned about in Genetic Analysis could be applied to solve real problems, from an enthusiastic professor who was doing research herself. It got me really excited about my major and I became interested in applying to a lab that was doing developmental work.

What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?

Natalie Turner 1

I have really enjoyed my experience with both the computer science and anthropology classes that I have taken. Computer Science is interesting

, challenging, and causes me to think about how to solve problems creatively. It has helped me develop critical thinking skills and taught me how to break down complex problems.
As for Anthropology, I find it fascinating to learn about biology from a different perspective. Human evolution is a topic that I’ve learned about in both my genetics classes and my anthropology classes and it’s really interesting to see how each field looks at the same questions from a different angle. Anthropology has given me another layer of knowledge that I can apply to my genetics research.

What are your other Rutgers activities?

I have a lab position in the Nakamura Lab in the genetics department as an undergraduate research assistant. I am also part of Douglass Residential College for Women and a member of the Rutgers Archeological Society.

What are your plans following graduation?

After graduation, I hope to work in the biotech industry and apply my knowledge of both genetics and computer science to work on meaningful research into genetic disease. After gaining a few years of experience, I hope to get my PhD with a focus in genomics.

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