When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Describe your research in five words.
“How signaling proteins cause cancer.”
When I was really young, I switched what I wanted to be every week. But then, in middle school, I wanted to be an interior designer — that was the first job that really stuck. I would come home from school and watch HGTV for hours while doing homework.
Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose research as a career path.
My sophomore year of high school, I had a really awesome biology teacher — Mr. Bronstad. Seeing how passionate he was about biology made me equally excited about biology, too. I knew from then that I definitely wanted to major in biology in college and do something science-related for a career. When I went to meet my principal investigator (PI) for the first time and saw the lab I was working in, I knew that research was something I wanted to pursue.
What’s an interesting thing that’s happened during your research?
The most important thing I’ve learned from being in a lab is that everyone makes mistakes, and that it’s okay to ask questions about experiments. A couple of weeks ago, my labmate was at a dead end, trying to troubleshoot what was going wrong with her experiment. By asking the other researchers if they had ever had any similar issues, she was able to figure out her error and achieve the results that she was looking for. My lab is really big on teamwork and cooperation, and it’s awesome to see how much we can get done by working together.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming female researchers in your field?
Get to know your professors — go to their office hours and put yourself out there. I got my lab position by complete chance. I went to talk to my first-year seminar professor, Dr. Peifer, to see if there were any openings for undergrads in his lab. Even though he didn’t have a place for me, he was able to recommend me to his colleague and my PI, Adrienne Cox. Dr. Cox mentioned to Dr. Peifer that she was looking for an undergrad to work as a lab assistant and eventually do research, so I was really just in the right place at the right time.