“The students were actually designing experiments…I was hooked.”
My roommate, a student researcher, brought me to my first lab meeting with biology professor Devavani Chatterjea so I could learn more about opportunities in her lab. It looked like a graduate-level research lab. The students were actually designing experiments, generating and analyzing data, and contributing to manuscripts for publication. I was hooked. On the spot, I asked Professor Chatterjea if I could join her lab group.
In the Chatterjea lab each student’s research project contributes to a more general goal: examining the role of the immune system in various diseases. Currently we are looking for possible causes of vulvodynia, a chronic pain condition suffered by up to 1 in 7 women. Our goal is to model the disease in animals in order to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms. My role focuses on performing behavioral and enzymatic assays on our samples.
I prepared for working in the lab by taking Professor Chatterjea’s course Research in Immunology. Once in the lab, more experienced students helped me learn techniques, recommended papers for me to read, and worked with me to analyze data. When I had questions, Professor Chatterjea was always available.
Like any scientist, I am most challenged when I get a data set that doesn’t look exactly the way I want it to. When someone in the lab gets agorgeous set of data, we celebrate.
I’m a senior now and after Macalester I plan to enter a graduate program in pharmacology or another field related to health care.