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Describe your laboratory experience, research interests and goals, and reasons for wishing to participate

in the Program

Research is a relatively new, but very important aspect of my education and future
occupation. As a current sophomore undergraduate student I have been privileged to receive a
great deal of exposure to undergraduate research over this past year. I have obtained this
experience by participating in a summer research program, this past summer, and obtaining a
research assistant position at my home institution. Coming into these positions I did not know
what to expect of scientific research and at the time had no plans of pursuing research as a
career. However, after working closely on my own research project this summer, I began to
realize the importance of scientific research as a field and was fascinated by the possibilities it
offered. Upon completing these research experiences I found myself reevaluating what my
occupational future consisted of and was now striving to earn my MD/Ph.D. rather than only
the MD I originally sought.
I believe that The Gateways to the Laboratory Program is the perfect undergraduate
research program for me and like my last research program, could be a great asset to my
vocational endeavors. While I have decided that I will obtain my MD/Ph.D. I am still undecided
about the subject I wish to focus on. It is my hope that this program will act as a catalyst in my
plans to achieve my educational goals and will help me experience new fields of science, so that
I may make a well informed decision about what I will ultimately be studying. Additionally, I
have found that in these programs it is not only the actual research that is important in career
development, but also the relationships and networking in the scientific community. The
people I met while doing my research over the summer and while presenting my research
nationally at the CUR REU conference this past October, were some of the most interesting and
inspiring individuals I have yet to meet. Thus, one of the aspects that excite me most about this
program in particular is the mentorship by the Big-Sib current MD/Ph.D. student. I found that
peer experiences are often those that make the most impact and the social aspect of research
is often forgotten or less emphasized. It is my hope that this program will provide further
opportunities in this very important aspect of scientific research as well.
Beyond my educational plans however, I believe this program could do a lot to better
me personally. It will not only serve to further my laboratory education, but I believe this
program will help me continue to utilize my scientific knowledge, in more than an academic
setting. It is this application of my scientific knowledge that I find most exciting and I believe
this summer research program is the perfect chance for me to continue to do that. While I
know the path ahead of me is difficult, especially as a first generation college student coming
from a disadvantaged background, I know that with perseverance and my continued motivation
to study the scientific world, I will someday achieve these lofty goals. I believe this program will
not only expedite my academic progress, but further augment me as a person and create a

more thoughtful individual which are skills I will not only benefit from in my undergraduate
education, but the rest of my life.
I have obtained this experience by participating in a summer research program, this past
summer, and obtaining a research assistant position at my home institution. The summer
research program was an REU or Research Experience for Undergraduate students program
hosted by Xavier University of New Orleans. There I worked with Dr. Hector Biliran doing
genetics and breast cancer research looking at the role of two specific proteins in anoikis, or
attachment induced apoptosis. During the ten week program I worked as a full time research
assistant from May 22nd to August 1st 2011 and learned many cell transfection techniques as
well as immunofluorescence and immunoblotting procedures. At the end of the program I was
nominated to present my findings nationally and did so at the 2011 CUR REU conference in
Washington D.C. this past October. At my home institution I work as a research assistant in the
biological anthropology lab with Dr. Anne Grauer and have done so since September 2011. My
project is collecting and analyzing isotopic data from human remains dating from the late
1800s. I conduct both bench and field work as I assist in excavating and identifying the remains,
in addition to drilling to collect tooth and bone samples from each individual for isotopic
analysis.
While currently I only have experience doing biological anthropology and cancer cell
biology research, my research interests stretch father than these subjects. I do have a great
deal of interest in cancer biology research, but I also have a great interest in both
developmental and structural biology as well. It is my hope that through programs like this I can
test the waters of these fascinating fields of science so that I may one day know what I want to
focus on in my graduate education.