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Senior Research in the Layden Lab

I came to Lehigh as an over-eager freshman with the ambition of eventually having a career in biological research. The idea seemed great, but at this point, I had no previous experience in research. I was first introduced to biological research through independent projects in the laboratory portions of some of my courses and wanted to learn more in a real research laboratory. Luckily, an opportunity to do this arose at the beginning of my junior year, and I enthusiastically seized it: I was accepted as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Michael Layden’s lab! After my initial period of bliss, it was time to get to work. Over the first several weeks, I had to learn the culture of a research lab – get to know and interact with many new people, read up on the problems being investigated, master new techniques, and slowly learn how to generate acceptable results. However, it has all paid off and was well worth the initial struggle.

Using the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, I am studying the roles of achaete-scute homologs, a gene family of transcription factors, in neural regeneration. In the process, I have learned how to implement proper lab animal care, gene cloning, riboprobe synthesis, mRNA in situ hybridization, and microscopy imaging techniques, among other lab skills. Perhaps most importantly, I have learned how to critically evaluate experimental results, present scientific data, design future studies, and become a confident independent thinker. I have had the pleasure of presenting my project at the Lehigh University Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium. I have also written a formal proposal and am currently conducting additional research for my senior honors thesis. I am so excited to see the culmination of my work!

Working in Dr. Layden’s lab has definitely confirmed my passion for biological research. As an aspiring scientist, my time here has been invaluable, due both to the project that I have been working on and the people that have been there every step of the way (big shout out to Jamie, Dylan, Suraj, Caitlin, Casey, Daniella, Alex, Anuroop, and of course, Dr. Layden). I am so thankful for all of the guidance and support that I have received. As I apply to graduate school, I know that I am truly choosing to do what I love most. Ph.D., here I come!



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