Week 2: A Day in the Life...
Research is Dynamic
When I was a kid, I guess I was what you’d call a “dork.” I read books three grades above my expected level, made honor roll every year, and won many awards in reading and math. Not much has changed since then—except that I’ve realized a “dork” is really someone who pursues their intellectual passions.
Pursuing my intellectual passions is exactly why I chose a career path in veterinarian research. Another positive aspect of this career path is that it gives me the opportunity to be surrounded by other “dorks.” Being on campus in the summer doing research, I am surrounded by like-minded people pursuing their interests and passions. During the summer, we can celebrate our unique attributes by parading openly through the library and lingering near the offices of distinguished professors in hopes of enticing them into conversation.
our work, it was a huge relief as well as a scientific victory.
One of my favorite aspects of my summer research project is the freedom to guide my project in the direction that interests me. Before I go into the lab in the morning, I read up on the latest advances and cancer and genomic research, which gives me ideas to contemplate throughout the day and inspiration for new directions to take with my project. For example, I am creating a color-coded cluster analysis map to show cancer protein orthologs that differ significantly between species. My interpretation of the cluster analysis has been greatly aided by methods used in the recent sequencing of human microbiome as well as the comparative analysis of multiple breast cancer subtypes.
Another positive aspect of research is learning new subjects, or applying subjects you’ve studied before in a new way. As an undergrad, my statistics class put me to sleep, so I was dreading having to use statistics for my summer research, and thought it would suck the fun right out of the project. However, I was astonished at how satisfying it was to use statistics to analyze population distributions, verify that the populations were different from each other and
find confidence intervals!
My summer research project exposes me to subjects that I would otherwise skim over or actively avoid. It also motivates and inspires me to read the latest research articles and become well-versed in genomics and oncology. Research demands drive, passion, and intellectual curiosity—in other words, it’s the perfect career for a “dork” like me!
About the Blogger
Natalie Punt caught the science bug at her grammar school’s science fair and has been experimenting since. She followed her passion for model biological systems as a microbiology major at UC Davis. As an undergraduate, she exercised her dual love for chemistry and biology by spending her free time in the biochemistry departmen characterizing the enzymatic site of a meiotic homologous recombination enzyme in yeast and identifying a motility gene in Myxococcus. Natalie has developed and characterized a mouse model of tumor angiogenesis, engineered a 3-D model of tumor angiogenesis and most recently contributed to the characterization of the epigenetic regulation of Mixed Lineage Leukemia. Her work has earned recognition at numerous science conferences and publications in peer-reviewed journals. Natalie’s immediate research plan is to study the genetic differences in cancer between domesticated animals and humans as a veterinarian student in California. This summer Natalie submitted a grant proposal to Merial/Merck and successfully received funding to identify proteins responsible for the anti-cancer phenotype in animals by comparing the cancer associated proteins to similar proteins found in humans. In her free time she enjoys running around the Charles, reading design books and learning to speak Italian.
"Women are venturing into science and technology in increasing numbers to contribute their own creations, discoveries and adventures. Having a forum such as Scientista, allows women to share their insights and knowledge. Sharing knowledge and wisdom from a variety of experiences prepares readers to be successful in their own scientific endeavors." - Natalie Punt