Richelle HendrixYear in School: Senior
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Leonard Dobens, School of Biological Science
Ask Richelle a question.
Why is undergraduate research important to you?
Undergraduate research is important to me because it allows me to get a foot in the door of the biological research field. For my career, I would love to conduct research in the lab, but experience is not always easy to gain before graduating with a degree. Sure there are biology lab courses that cover an array of lab techniques, but nothing compares to the knowledge you can learn along side the professors and graduate lab assistants. Also, being able to conduct my own experiments and research as opposed to aiding others in conducting theirs is a dream come true.
How did you find your mentor?
I was very lucky to obtain a work-study position in a lab of the Biological Sciences Department under the supervision of Dr. Leonard Dobens. Through this position I was able to build a student-mentor relationship and because I showed a great amount of interest and liking in the work being done (studying the effects of target genes on cell growth in Drosophila) Dr. Dobens suggested I apply for the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (SUROP). For anyone who is seeking to build a relationship with a mentor in the science field I suggest reading up on faculty who are involved in the type of research that interests you, asking your class professors what they are researching, asking your class advisors for recommendations, and if you have the opportunity try to participate in their lab through things such as work-study positions or just volunteering to help out.
How did you determine what your particular research project would be?
In many cases mentors will have their own research schedule for lab assistants and graduate students to conduct. This is the case in my particular project. The lab in which I am participating is focused on studying D. melanogaster (fruit fly) and how the gene Tribbles (known to have diverse roles in tissue homeostasis, cell signalling, and cancer) interacts with cell development. The research I am taking part in has to do with how Tribbles activity compares to that of other growth mediator genes in the pausing mechanisms of egg chambers in response to starvation. Being able to contribute to the lab's focus point is very rewarding in the amount of knowledge that is at your discretion (i.e., lab professors and grad students who are well versed in the topic and can help you better understand the research).
What have you gained from your undergraduate research experience?
Experience and confidence is what I have gained from being a part of undergraduate research. I am now learning proper protocols, strategies, and techniques that are used in the research environment. Before I would struggle to get through a scientific paper, but now I find myself skimming through scholarly articles in a matter of minutes. Knowledge on the subject is a life long tool that will help advance me in molecular cell biology research. Through this experience I have found that research in the sciences is one of my passions, and I hope to go on to graduate school in hopes of leading my own research department.