We teach each other what we know, learn from one another, and collaborate on experiments.
—Beebie Boo. 

BY | Beebie Boo ’17
Los Angeles, Calif.

Vulvodynia is a chronic pain condition affecting women across the globe and, like many other chronic pain conditions, it is poorly understood. In Professor Chatterjea’s lab, we have been developing a model to elucidate the various pathways of this particular chronic pain condition in the hope of discovering novel therapeutic targets for future treatments.

Because of epidemiological studies that link vulvodynia to a history of allergies, we are looking at the neuroimmune interactions—the intersection of allergies and pain—in particular.

After my first year at Macalester, I reached out to Professor Chatterjea by expressing my interest in research and she gave me an opportunity to volunteer in her lab. After volunteering and taking her Research in Immunology class, my favorite and most challenging class at Macalester so far, I was given the opportunity to design and conduct my own experiments as a student researcher. Now, using many different techniques including behavioral studies, gene expression analyses, and protein assays, I am investigating whether cells and molecules involved in repairing the skin after repeated allergic inflammation might also promote long-lasting pain at allergic sites.

Research has taught me the importance of teamwork. Through the ups and the downs, all the members of the lab are there for one another. We teach each other what we know, learn from one another, and collaborate on experiments. I am so grateful to work alongside such fun, smart, creative, and passionate people.

I never thought that, as an undergraduate, I would be designing and conducting my own experiments with the full support and encouragement of my research mentor, working alongside other student researchers who are also passionate about the research topic, and going to conferences to share the research that I have conducted. And all of these experiences have further strengthened my passion for research and for biology.

As a Beckman Scholar, Beebie’s research is supported by the Beckman Foundation.

January 9 2017

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