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Smooth Seas Never Made Skilled Researchers: A Perspective on Cell Death


Brandon Chen is a rising senior majoring in Biology. He was awarded a Spring 2018 Independent Grant which he used to conduct research on proteins in cancer cells under Dr. Lawrence Boise. 

Research is a constant interplay between breaking known knowledge and establishing new knowledge. The molecular biology textbook you read today can be outdated at this moment when you’re reading this post. These incessant challenges of what we know, and the pursuit of truth are the motivations that drive me into research. I am curious about the cell, the grandiose interconnectivity that drives cellular functions, and molecular mechanisms that make a cell a cell!  

From Volcanos to Galectin

Birk Evavold is a rising senior majoring in Biology and Chemistry. He was awarded a Spring 2018 Independent Grant which he used to conduct research on the protein Galectin under Dr. Sean Stowell. 

Like many kids, my interest in science was piqued by the renown first grade baking soda and vinegar volcano. But why does this tried-and-tested combination make children love science? For some, maybe it’s the lovely smell of acetic acid, but for me, it was the unexpected results. Fifteen years later, unexpected outcomes still fuel my passion for scientific research. Now, my research focuses on a carbohydrate-binding protein called galectin-1 and its redox potential. Galectin-1 has many previously identified important immunomodulatory roles, but its high-propensity to undergo oxidative inactivation is the focus of my project in the lab. Though my work fortunately has not yet recreated the explosive effects that initially kindled my scientific interest, the scientific process for discovery remains just as exciting. 

Of Monarchs and Me - Finding YOUR Best Fit in Research

Yaw Kumi-Ansu is a recent graduate who majored in Biology. He was awarded a Spring 2018 Independent Grant which he used to conduct research on Monarch butterflies under Dr. Jacobus de Roode. 

I had my first taste of biological research in my introductory biology classes at Oxford College and my interest was built further in the research club established by the Biology department. This served as an avenue to discuss research from many different fields with Emory researchers and hopefully help us (students) identify labs or projects that may be of interest to us. It was at one of these meetings that I got the opportunity to meet Dr. Berry Brossi through a Skype meeting. I took an interest in his research into bee ecology and pollinator behavior due to the multidisciplinary approach of his work. Upon interviewing with him some weeks later to join the lab, I realized that though I had interest in his work, I preferred something more related to immunity and disease. Based on this, he recommended me to his colleagues, Dr. Jacobus de Roode and Dr. Nicole Gerardo, who currently serve as my co-advisers. In their lab, I have had the opportunity to study and investigate innate immune genes in monarch butterflies, particularly in the Toll pathway. 

Pay Attention - Or Not?

Marissa Russell is a senior majoring in Linguistics and Spanish. She was awarded a Spring 2018 Independent Grant which she used to conduct research on attention under Dr. Lynne Nygaard. 

When I first pursued undergraduate research at Emory, I was unsure what to expect. I knew I had a strong interest in language and was intrigued by the research process, but I questioned how much meaningful experience I could gain (and how much I could truly contribute) as a junior in college. Now, looking back over the past two years in the Speech and Language Perception Lab, I can confidently say that research has been the most significant and rewarding aspect of my academic career.

A Sophomore's Dream Becomes a Senior's Reality

Amina Dunn is a senior majoring in Sociology and Theater Studies. She was awarded a Spring 2018 Independent Grant which she used to conduct research on campus political engagement under Dr. Irene Browne. 

After two years at Emory, I noticed that political discussions between individuals with differing opinions were rare. I, myself, was having most of my political conversations within my friend group and, even then, I felt I was the one who was instigating most of the discussions. When I saw political demonstrations on campus, usually something very big had happened on campus to motivate students to act: “Trump” and “Build a Wall” were chalked all over campus, DACA was potentially going to be rescinded, Black Lives Matter art was washed off of Asbury Circle by the university, or Milo Yiannapolous was invited to speak on campus. Each of these incidents led to short-lived protests on campus; but generally, campus was and continues to be a peaceful place. At the tail-end of my sophomore year, I had an idea. I wanted to create a documentary project examining how students across the country perceived the world. I wanted to understand how an individual’s perception of the world was shaped by their ability to navigate their lives. Simply, I wanted to know how identity shapes a college students perspective of political ideas. I was told by a professor that my idea was too big, not academic enough, and the time commitment was extremely large. She was right. So, I dropped the documentary idea and the project eventually transformed.