GodrichDana Godrich

Major: Genetics
Computational Genetics Certificate

Graduation Year: 2018

How did you decide on your major?

I originally chose to major in Genetics because, for as long as I can remember, I was curious about genetic disorders like Down Syndrome. Since I began the genetics track, my initial interests certainly did not fade, but I managed to expand on my scientific interests into topics such as computational genetics, statistical genetics, and evolutionary genetics. Currently, I am looking forward to expanding on these curiosities even more by applying for Computational Genetics PhD programs.

What did you like most about it?

Out of all the incredible aspects of being a Genetics major, I enjoyed the collaboration of the students with the faculty. Whether it was outside of class, in the Association of  Undergraduate Geneticists’ Fall Eat and Greet, or during class/research, the faculty is constantly open to questions, feedback, and general student thoughts. During my entire undergraduate genetics experience, I felt supported and motivated by faculty and peers to continue learning, to engage in science, and to explore more curiosities!

What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Currently, I am working as a laboratory technician in the Gordon lab, and attempting to finish up a project that I began in my undergrad. Using R-programming, I classify disease harboring simulated trios (mother, father, affected child) into linked and unlinked groups using the TDT-HET statistic. I then calculate the statistical power of my classification methods as compared to the gold-standard classification as retrieved from the simulations. This position has taught me a lot about independence and patience, because things break, and they take time to fix (see: debugging). Overall, though, I enjoy the amount of trust that my PI puts into my work and the great wealth of skills, life lessons, and academic experience I have absorbed from the position.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

My first job after Rutgers was as a laboratory technician, and I am still doing that while applying for PhD programs in Computational Genetics.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

During my studies, I understood the difficulty of studying abroad as a science major. However, I somehow made it work and it completely enhanced my scientific curiosity and I brought that back with me to Rutgers. I chose to intern in Australia for a summer term and I got the special opportunity to research snail evolution at the Australian Museum in Sydney. When I returned to Rutgers from the internship, I continued research in genetics but with new lenses—computational ones. I believe that my internship paired with the courses I took under the Computational Genetics certificate program shaped me into the training scientist that I am today. If I had to pinpoint one transformative course (that I highly recommend) it would be the Genetics of Big Data course.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

Get into research early! An early exposure to research is extremely advantageous. For all major, my biggest piece of advice is to go to seminars. I did not start attending seminars until the spring of my junior year and I definitely regret it. Seminars are a great way to learn something outside the classroom and remain engaged in current events and research. This is
also an interesting outlet to meet new people, explore new topics (by attending seminars outside your immediate major), and inspire new questions.

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