Laboratory Technician, The Chen Lab
You work in a laboratory. What are you currently researching?
I’m a laboratory technician in the Chen Lab and I’ll be joining the department as a PhD student this fall. The Chen lab studies population genomics using pedigree data from the Florida Scrub Jay, an endangered species of bird endemic to Florida. Using this unique combination of pedigree and genomic data, we can ask questions about evolutionary biology and conservation genomics that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
What was it that originally sparked your interest in biology?
I grew up living next to Canandaigua Lake and got to spend my childhood chasing fish through the shallows, climbing trees, and hunting fossils in the shale by the water. I attribute the love of biology and ecology I discovered in high school to the love of living things and the outdoors that my parents fostered in me throughout my childhood.
What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned working here and/or studying biology?
I’ve learned that the people you surround yourself with go a long way toward shaping your research experience. The department and lab you work in are the people you’ll be learning from, bouncing ideas off of, and sharing your work with. Having people who accept and support you throughout your research is invaluable, and the biology department here has done a fantastic job of creating an environment in which students can thrive.
How do you think our biology department stands out in comparison to other universities?
The U of R biology department is unique in that there’s an environment of support and acceptance that is incredibly valuable. There’s an atmosphere of cameraderie and inclusion that fosters growth and development of students and faculty that just isn’t found at every institution.
How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?
I love being outside, so I try to soak up as much sun (or snow) as I can in my free time by running, hiking, or just hanging out at the park with my dog. I also enjoy painting, drawing, and trying to see how many plants I can collect and keep alive at once (I’m up to 56).