PURM gave me an opportunity this summer to work with such an amazing group of intellectuals and explore my interests in research. I was able to do research in Dr. Jennifer Phillips-Cremins’ lab in the bioengineering department which focuses on the 3D genome. My project specifically involved writing code to analyze RNA-seq data and modifying other pieces of code to turn them into tools for the lab to use. I was also able to work on wet lab experiments with my mentor, Jonathan Beagan.
This summer was a great exposure to get started with research. Initially, I was intimidated and nervous to do my own research because I had no experience. However, after a week of communicating with my mentor about the biological concepts and research processes, I had a better understanding moving forward. I realized that I was not expected to know everything when I first started. By asking questions and being engaged while doing research, I was able to learn a lot about the 3D genome.
I was able to gain experience in almost every field in the lab. This includes running experiments, then visualizing, quantifying and publishing data. I learned how to work efficiently and safely in the biosafety cabinet and chemical fume hood to reduce error and contamination. On visualizing data, I viewed our RNA-seq data on the UCSC genome browser to analyze enhancer activity. Then, I used Python code to quantify and plot the data in graphs. I was also able to learn how figures are made in scientific papers. I used photoshop to generate some figures with plots and UCSC genome browser tracks.
Research was an entirely new experience for me. I was able to get hands-on experience and finally apply what I learned from the classroom in my research.