How did you become interested in biology?
Learning about the nervous system in my psychology class really sparked the intrigue for biological processes. What drew me to biology, and what continues to fascinate me, is the infinitely complex and all-encompassing nature of the nervous system. Everything we experience and perceive is all thanks to our powerful neurons.
Why did you pick ASU for your graduate degree?
I was interested in having more research experience, and Dr. Bellemer’s lab was the perfect fit! It didn’t hurt that App is in such a beautiful area.
What is your thesis research focused on?
My thesis project is generally focused on further elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in pain detection using the fruit fly as a model organism. First, I’m working on integrating CRISPR/Cas9 into the fly genome as an additional way to make cell-specific genetic manipulations. Secondly, I’m in the process of establishing a procedure to test thermal pain response in adult flies that have been sensitized via injury. This will open the door to new pain-response experiments and provide a robust genetic toolbox for making cell-specific gene manipulations in Drosophila.
What are your plans after you finish your Master’s degree here?
After I finish, I’d like to continue working in the neurobiology field before earning a Ph.D in Immunology. My end goal is to work in NeuroAIDS research.