Where are you from?
What is your major?
What is your minor(s)?
Chemistry and Sociology
Why did you choose to study these subjects?
I really enjoyed AP Chemistry in high school and I was equally as fascinated with its applications in medicine and the human body. I knew I wanted to pursue my undergraduate degree with these interests in mind. I came across Biochemistry when I was researching degree plans towards the end of my senior year. I knew that this major would be a perfect fit for me because not only does it provide a strong foundation on biochemical processes, but it also has a strong emphasis in clinical applications. Also, the research requirement for the major gives more in depth experience with conducting your own hypothesis driven research project.
What is your favorite class and/or faculty member, and why?
I know I am going to sound crazy, but my favorite class that I have taken at CWRU is Organic Chemistry with Dr. Rekha Srinivasan. While the course was challenging, it helped me to think more logically and learn how to solve a problem more effectively. I found her lectures engaging and interesting and her applications to the everyday world were really cool. The course helped me grow an appreciation for the work that pharmaceutical and industrial chemists do for our society.
Why did you choose CWRU?
I chose CWRU because it is strong in the sciences and has many opportunities available to expose yourself to research and the medical field. It is an awesome research institution, with lots of NIH funding and lots of opportunities to do research and connect with people.
What do you like best about CWRU?
The best part about CWRU is that most of the professors are really awesome. I’ve had the opportunity to get know most of my professors. I’ve learned that they are not only invested in the work that they do but also in their students’ futures.
What do you like best about living in Cleveland?
Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.
My experience as a CWRU student has given me amazing opportunities, including research. My first research experience started in the summer of 2014 when I was accepted into the Heart, Lung, and Blood Program at the Case School of Medicine. I was assigned to Dr. Peter A. Zimmerman’s lab and worked on a project that focused on analyzing the variable interaction between the Plasmodium vivax (P.vivax) Duffy binding protein (DBP) and Duffy blood group receptors of the same genotype. We modeled this interaction in-vitro using recombinant DBP and isolated red blood cells and analyzed this using flow cytometry. We tentatively concluded the variability in the DBP/Duffy receptor interaction could be attributed to another receptor that could be variably localized. The goal of the project was to further current understanding of genetic factors associated with P.vivax infection. The long term goal is to mitigate further P.vivax transmission in Madagascar. I was able to present my summer work at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students that November in San Antonio, TX.
I have been doing my capstone research in the lab of Dr. Alan Levine since August of 2015. My current project focuses on understanding the signaling differences between peripheral blood T cells and lamina propria T cells. Solving this enigma is important to our understanding of why lamina propria T cells are dormant to our microbiome while peripheral blood T cells respond rapidly to site of pathogens. My lab has previously shown that T cell receptor (TCR) complex embedment into a lipid raft is required for T cell activation. We have hypothesized that the differences in the immune responsiveness between peripheral blood T cells and lamina propria T cells are associated with variations in TCR complex association with neighboring lipid rafts. To study this question, I am using immunoblotting to analyze the phosphorylation levels of target phospho proteins to verify cell activation. Changes in the membrane compositions and the colocalization of the TCR, p56lck and LAT to lipid rafts before and after activation will be analyzed using flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, respectively. I was fortunate to present some of my preliminary data last summer at ASM Microbe through the ASM Undergraduate Research Capstone. I was also able to continue during summer of 2016 through fellowships I received from the American Physiological Society and American Society for Microbiology. During this time I was able to strengthen my research skills and further my project. Since this project is brand new, I spent most of my time troubleshooting and through this I gained a better understanding of the research process. I’ve learned that research isn’t a straight path and new questions arise along the way. Every experiment, even failed ones, can increase our understanding and lead to amazing discoveries. My time in Dr. Levine’s lab has built my confidence in my research capabilities and has strengthened my interest in a career as a physician-investigator. The opportunity to conduct research at CWRU helped me obtain a gap year position at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
What are some of your other interests and hobbies?
I really enjoy watching documentaries, cooking, and working out.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
In early September of my sophomore year, as I was walking to a physics lecture with my friend Anupama Cemballi, we started talking about a student group we learned about during our orientation week called Advocates for Cleveland Health. We were disheartened when we both discovered that the organization had disbanded the year before. However, at that serendipitous moment we both decided to start the organization from scratch. Since that fateful day we have completely revamped this organization. Since restarting, our membership and collaborations have increased tremendously and we have been able to make an impact on the campus community. I consider restarting Advocates for Cleveland Health my greatest accomplishment because it helped me develop as a leader.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I see myself finishing medical school and working towards a career in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases.