Excited by the idea of becoming a scientist since I was a small child, my interests in pursuing graduate studies intensified during my undergraduate education and my research experience. Rather than discouraging me with the tremendous amount of work and demands for creativity, my college years motivated me to earn a Ph.D. and to continue pursuing a career as a research scientist. Although my exact research goals have yet to be refined, my interests include studying the genetic basis of disease and the genetic mechanisms that govern various cellular processes, such as the cell cycle, apoptosis, and tumor formation.

Although I entered college without a clear research direction, the Biotechnology Program at Rochester Institute of Technology helped develop my interest in the field of Genetics. I found much of my laboratory training at RIT to be extremely rewarding. For example, one experience that early on convinced me to seriously consider genetics was a project involving the construction and characterization of a recombinant plasmid. Since I worked independently for the most part, the project played a key role in increasing my confidence and helping me to understand various concepts pertaining to genetic analysis. It was this experience that motivated me to seek a position as a teachers assistant for a course in Microbial and Viral Genetics. As a TA, I learned how demanding the teaching situation is and how much teaching a course can contribute to my own learning.

By this time, after discovering my passion for research and the joy of teaching, I began to seriously contemplate graduate schools. To excel in graduate school, I decided I would not limit my experience to my formal education at RIT. Instead, I wanted the opportunity to explore my career options to make a well-informed decision as to the area of my future research. With these goals in mind, I chose to take advantage of RIT’s Cooperative Education Program, which meant earning my Bachelors degree in five years instead of four. In December of 1997, Astra Arcus USA Pharmaceuticals hired me as a research assistant in the Electrophysiology department.

At Astra, I learned research techniques not taught by RIT. For the past year, I have been working with a subset of neuronal glutamate receptors via voltage clamping on Xenopus oocytes. The research of our lab is geared toward the study of central nervous system diseases. Working with Astra and earning an education in biotechnology from RIT sparked my interest in learning more about the genetic basis of disease.

On a personal level, I’ve gained quite a bit from my cooperative experience. Confident in my ability to adapt to new environments and learn techniques that I have never encountered, I have also learned a great deal about the nature of private-sector research and the lifestyle of the researchers. Familiar with the amount of dedication and hard work essential to project advancement, I am more focused on my goal of becoming an excellent researcher than I ever have been. No stranger to the frustration and disappointment inherent in research work, I am spurred on by the thrill of discovery. I find a great deal of enjoyment working in research and plan to stay at Astra through the summer of 2005.

I feel that my course work as a Biotechnology major at RIT and my research experience at Astra have adequately prepared me for graduate study. Eager to continue my education and improve upon my weaknesses, I am particularly interested in becoming more familiar with emerging technologies relating to genetics and in gaining more exposure in working with eukaryotic genomes. Most importantly, I want to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to design and perform research according to my interests in genetics and disease.

With these broad interests and specific goals, I am very attracted to the Graduate Program in Genetics at Duke University. With great flexibility in choosing a degree, the program would suit me well. At Duke, I would welcome the opportunity to explore my interests in Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Cancer Biology. I am also interested in learning more about possible involvement with the Duke Center for Human Genetics. My motivation to succeed is reflected in both my academic standing and my dedication to research. I feel that these attributes, combined with a profound interest in the Biological Sciences, will ensure me success as a graduate student at Duke University.