Graduation Year: 2018
How did you decide on your major?
I chose the Genetics major mainly because I was really interested in genetics research and wanted to learn more about genetic diseases, such as cancer. I was also drawn to the major because of its more personal nature; there are fewer students in the major than in some of the other Life Sciences programs, giving Genetics students more time with professors and more individual attention.
What did you like most about it?
I loved the research opportunities offered through the Genetics major. Since research is a requirement for the program, students are given the opportunity to participate in hands-on research that builds off of what is taught in the classroom. My experiences with research at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey enhanced my undergraduate experience and gave me a skillset that has helped me succeed in my current research position post-graduation.
What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I currently work as a Research Specialist at Princeton University where I am carrying out experiments to determine the crystal structure of a phase separating protein involved in microtubule nucleation, as well as building a bioinformatics database for proteins involved in spindle assembly. I really enjoy being in a research environment where I have the opportunity to perform both wet lab and computational studies, both of which I gained experience with while I was an undergraduate at Rutgers. UPDATE 3/7/19: I was accepted at Princeton's graduate program in Molecular Biology!
What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?
My first job after Rutgers is my current position at Princeton University. I got this position through the principal investigator of my lab at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ), Dr. Zhiyuan Shen. My current principal investigator at Princeton happened to give a talk at CINJ, and Dr. Shen put me in contact with her when I reached out to him inquiring about any potential research positions he might know about.
Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?
My experience with the bioinformatics/computational genetics classes offered to students in the Genetics major has definitely contributed to my successes. These classes piqued my interest in using computer programs to analyze biological data, and have served useful in my current position, where I am working on creating a bioinformatics database. Additionally, my research experiences as part of the SAS Honors Program deepened my passion for research and built up my confidence in pursuing research as a career. The experience of writing my Honors Thesis and presenting my work helped me develop skills in communicating research findings both in writing and orally, which has proved valuable as I continue to participate in research in my current position.
What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?
My advice to current Arts and Sciences students would be to set the bar high for yourself. My best experiences at Rutgers came from challenges that I initially was not sure that I would be able to overcome. I found that by dreaming big, stepping out of your comfort zone, and tackling these challenges you learn a lot not only in the classroom but about yourself as well.