Michael Thomas & Alicia Ramsaran

Michael Thomas with microscope on a riverside

Michael Thomas

How did you become interested in biology?

I guess it is fair to say that I have always been interested in biology, at least as long as I can remember. I was always fascinated about how life existed in so many different ways, as well as how all this life had evolved into our everyday surroundings. Moreover, I just wanted to know how life worked. I was fortunate to have an exceptional teacher in high school who really turned me on to the subject, and as they say, the rest was history.

How did you pick ASU for your graduate degree?

I started honors research with Dr. Robert Creed as undergraduate at ASU and immediately became attached to the system he studied. I fell right into the routine in the lab and we had great success early on, so the transition to the graduate program just seemed appropriate. Also, I knew Robert was an extraordinary teacher and researcher, so I could not turn down the challenge and experience.

What is your thesis research focused on?

I research symbiotic interactions, specifically the freshwater cleaning symbiosis mutualisms between crayfish and small worms called branchiobdellidans that live on crayfish. Many of these interactions can shift along a symbiotic continuum from parasitism to commensalism to mutualism as a function of various biotic and abiotic factors. My thesis research has focused on how crayfish ontogeny, or the size and age of the crayfish, affects the nature of these symbioses.

What are your plans after you finish your Master's degree here?

I do not have a set plan following graduation. I believe that taking some time off would really benefit any decision I make for the next step. I do know that I want my future career to be very much involved with freshwater ecology. I am confident that my graduate experience has prepared me for whatever lies ahead.

Alicia RamsaranAlicia Ramsaran

How did you become interested in biology?

I have been interested in biology ever since I received my first microscope and chemistry set in the 5th grade. Beyond mixing chemicals to create little exothermic reactions, I was fascinated by organisms that live in the soil.

Why did you pick ASU for your graduate degree?

My brother was an undergraduate here at ASU and spoke highly of his experience with the professors at this university. After graduating from UNC in 2011, I took a few graduate level courses and spoke to professors in the Cell and Molecular track in order to become familiar with research opportunities available at ASU. I was very interesting in genetic and developmental research and was happily accepted to Ted Zerucha's lab in the Fall of 2012.

Alicia Ramsaran in the labWhat is your thesis research focused on?

My research uses zebrafish to study the regulation of the Meis family of homeobox containing genes during embryonic development. Over the last two years, I have been working with a non-coding element associated with Meis2. I performed microinjections on single celled embryos and then developed lines of transgenic zebrafish from embryos in which expression of my element was observed using confocal microscopy.

What are your plans after you finish your Master's degree here?

I would love to continue with my current research in an industry setting. After a few years of industry experience I would like to go back to school and get a PhD in Genetics.

Michael Thomas and Alicia Ramsaran
Published: Jul 3, 2014 2:58pm