Graduate Student, The Brisson Lab
You work in a laboratory. What are you currently researching?
I work with asexual, female pea aphids. These insects produce clonal daughters that are winged or wingless, depending on the environment that their mother experiences. If a wingless mother resides on a crowded plant, this induces a stress response, and she will produce a high proportion of winged daughters who can disperse to a more suitable host. I’m working on understanding the hormonal regulation of this morph determination.
What was it that originally sparked your interest in biology?
I’ve always been curious about the natural world, but I didn’t find passion for biology until I took an evolution course during my undergraduate studies. My professor’s enthusiasm for the subject was contagious and she became my mentor. With her encouragement, I pursued a number of research opportunities which have shaped my interest in biology. Professors can have a long-lasting impact on their student’s lives!
What advice would you give to prospective students looking to study in our department?
I would recommend reaching out to our faculty, graduate students, and staff. We have a fairly small department and people are very approachable and willing to help or answer questions.
What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned working here and/or studying biology?
Before I started graduate school, I thought that I had great time management skills. I quickly found out that this wasn’t true. There will always be a ton of reading, studying, and lab work to do, but it is also important to factor in relaxation time. Finding a good work-life balance makes a huge difference in managing stress levels.
How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?
I like to get outside as much as possible. There are a ton of parks in the area, and a lot of great hiking trails. I also enjoy weekly trivia, yoga, rock climbing, and long walks by the Genesee.