Zainab had the opportunity to talk with undergraduate intern of the Hood-Price Lab, Naomi Martin. It was such a pleasure to hear about her experiences in STEM and how she continued that passion by doing research at ISB! The transcript is below:
What got you interested in researching Alzheimer’s Disease?
I’ve always been interested in the brain in particular because the brain is our medium for reality, everything around us would not exist without it. I always found it interesting that in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) the neurodegeneration can just deceive your entire reality. Something that you think is stable throughout your life just starts to deteriorate. I’ve actually seen some family members who have suffered from AD and it’s such a devastating and unexpected disease. Ever since high school I have been interested in the brain, but only recently did I start taking more of a spin on neurodegenerative disease. Throughout my college career and this internship I was able to develop this interest further.
What was special about your experience doing research at ISB?
I think the results that you get are special and unique at ISB. I did not know too much about mouse lemurs as an ideal organism for studying AD or what the relation with transposable elements was at all. Just going into the genomes and being able to see what’s happening and the information that guides all those processes. I think it was interesting to be able to manipulate those genomes and to see results through my analyses. The main thing is seeing the actual information at a micro level and being able to draw conclusions on the macro level.
How was your college experience at The University of Washington? (What did you major in? Were you able to do research there as well?)
I definitely suggest getting into research in undergraduate school if you want to do research in the future- or regardless- I feel like it’s a valuable opportunity as it opens your mind.Naomi Martin
I double majored at The University of Washington in biochemistry and biophysics. I was actually initially planning to be a doctor but then I realized I was not passionate enough about it. I kind of took a little bit of a spin and decided to do research, which is equally as important in the medical community, in order to find cures for these diseases. I did some research in undergraduate school, it was also bioinformatics like what I am doing now. I was in a lab that studied hummingbird flight in order to better understand the power output during flight. So I was involved in analyzing the wing angles and drawing conclusions from that. But overall, I think my undergraduate lab experience was very valuable for ‘planting the initial seeds’ for thinking like a researcher. I definitely suggest getting into research in undergraduate school if you want to do research in the future- or regardless- I feel like it’s a valuable opportunity as it opens your mind.
Do you have any advice for high school students interested in pursuing a career in STEM?
My undergraduate experience has been very valuable in honing in on exactly what I want to do. Like I said, I started off wanting to be a doctor but upon realizing I was more interested in the biochemical basis of things I decided to take a spin on that. My advice for high school students is to try new things. You’re not going to figure out what you want to do in life straight off the bat. I’d say experiment a little with your interests and eventually you’ll find something that you’re passionate about and finding that ultimate passion is so rewarding and all worth it.
What was your experience going to high school in Malaysia?
I went to the International School of Kuala Lumpur and it was in the capital city of Malaysia. Other than that high school experience, I have been moving around Asia my entire life because my dad’s job kept relocating us around there. So I lived in Singapore and China a few times, but we ultimately settled in Malaysia for my high school experience. I think that was one of the main years of development for me, I think it was really important for my own growth to grow up outside of the US in Asia because it gave more of a cultural and broader outlook on life. I feel this is important in fostering innovation in the scientific community. I was able to bring that diverse outlook to my work. I think that experience was valuable for my future and what I’ve done so far. It ties into your previous question- don’t be afraid to try new things! You can do anything you put your mind to so just go for it if you want to. As an example, my dad, he wanted to go out and explore outside of the US, so when he graduated college he ended up going to Taiwan, not knowing how to speak any Chinese and picking up a reporting job there. While this was really intimidating, he totally went through it and he gave me this life. So definitely try new things and don’t be afraid to, because, if you truly want it, then you’re going to get it.
Link to Hood-Price Lab: Hood-Price Lab | The Hood-Price Lab (isbscience.org)