Ph.D. in Pharmacology
Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?
Cancer research is close to home for me. My desire to undertake clinically relevant cancer research was a major catalyst in my decision to pursue a career in cancer research at Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) as a Ph.D. student. The IUSM at IUPUI has an impressive reputation as a leader in multidisciplinary cancer research, boasting facilities such as the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Simon Canter Center (an NCI-designated Cancer Center), and a myriad of state-of-the-art Core facilities. The ability to work closely with these facilities matched well with my interests to be in a collaborative, team-based environment like IUPUI, and I was prompted to rotate in and ultimately join Dr. Tao Lu’s lab. Based on Dr. Lu’s track record, I was confident I would be provided with a strong foundation in the molecular techniques pertinent to the cancer research field that would advance me to the next step of my career. Furthermore, in terms of location, Indianapolis was an attractive city; it offered a good balance of affordable and comfortable living, with just the right amount of fun activities to do on the weekends.
What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?
While at IU, I have been so blessed and honored with several academic accomplishments. Additionally, I have had so many amazing opportunities to engage with and give back to my community, which is very personal to me. My favorite accomplishments have been the intra- and extra-mural travel awards and fellowships I have received to represent IU and present my research at several conferences throughout the US. My favorite accomplishment is the prestigious American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Scholar-in-Training Award supported by the Colon Cancer Coalition. Scholar-in-Training Awards are highly competitive and are presented to those with high-quality applications from a large global candidate pool. I was also honored to recently receive the 2018 Graduate Student Volunteer of the Year Award and 2018 Excellence in Basic Science Research Award from IUSM.
What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?
I would have to say Indy is the ideal graduate student living spot. It has many of the incentives of big city living such as numerous eateries, entertainment, sports and night life activities. For instance, anytime I have a craving for a specific cuisine I can always find it amongst a wide variety of restaurant choices downtown or in the nearby Broad Ripple area. As an outdoorsy soul, it also offers me some of perks of suburban living including hiking trails, paddle-boating on the Canal, kayaking at Eagle Creek, to name a few. In short, there’s always something to do in Indy, whatever my interests are on any given day. The biggest perk is that Indy has one of the lowest costs of living among large cities in the nation which allows me to live affordably downtown and have a short commute to campus. I also love the fact that Indy has grown into a vivacious place that attracts people of all ages, nationalities and walks of life, providing me with opportunities to network through outreach and professional events all over the city and learn about various cultures.
Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.
For the past 4 years, I have been able to work with cell and mouse models of colorectal cancer wherein we identified how posttranslational modifications of two proteins, YBX1 and PRMT5 significantly contribute to colorectal cancer malignancy by activating specific cancer cell survival signaling pathways. My ultimate goal is to use my findings to develop more effective therapeutic strategies and to improve the survival and quality of life for cancer patients. Thus far, my graduate work has resulted in 8 peer-reviewed publications for which I am extremely grateful to my mentor, Dr. Tao Lu as well as the IUSM Graduate Division for cultivating an excellent personal and professional training environment for me. I am also very grateful for the ability to fulfil my dual passion for outreach and leadership which have led me to hold several positions on and off campus including: Vice President of the IUPUI Graduate & Professional Student Government; Graduate Student Representative of the IUSM Pharmacology & Toxicology Department; tutor kids at the Julian Center with School on Wheels; mentor at-risk girls with Big Brother Big Sister of Central Indiana; and participate in Science Outreach Activities at local elementary schools.