Congratulations on being published Chisom! How did you become involved in this project and how does it feel to be an undergraduate student who has co-authored a paper?
Thank you. I became a part of this project during my contract role at Genentech which I got the opportunity to be a part of from the PINC program. I worked with an amazing manager who pushed me to be a part of this project.
Honestly, it is really personal and feels great, it also makes me want to do more great projects. Also, there may be another publication forthcoming, if it gets accepted.
Could you explain in layman's terms, what the paper addresses and why this is significant? Is anything surprising about the findings?
In simple terms "Microflow size exclusion chromatography to preserve micromolar affinity complexes and achieve subunit separations for native state mass spectrometry" this project simply means running different protein samples through 3 different-sized columns. To test for sensitivity, resolution, and speed to see which of the 3 columns keeps the quaternary structures and if the proteins can easily be identified. This project was done to prevent the use of complex machines to identify protein samples.
Did your PINC classes prepare you at all for working at Genentech? If yes, how so?
YES, it most strongly did. The PINC program taught me how to code on R-studio, which I use for project analysis by plotting graphs and data analysis.
Could you share a little about your academic journey? How did you become interested in Biochemistry and what led you to the PINC program?
I am a very curious person who enjoys exploring and research; the outcomes are open and not predetermined. When I applied, I applied for several positions but ultimately chose Biochemistry because it gave me the best of both worlds, biology, and chemistry. When I took Professor Pleuni Penning's' Genetics class, I learned about the PINC Program. She had asked me to try it, but I was hesitant because my primary goal was to complete my Biochemistry degree. I wouldn't say I was doing as well as I am now at the time.
Professor Pleuni brought the PINC program to me and explained everything about it, and I was nervous because I had only heard scary things about coding. But she was able to persuade me, and I was told that if I didn't like it, I could always leave, so I decided to give it a shot. It was my first time seeing coding in relation to data science, biology, and chemistry. So, I participated in the first summer program, and it piqued my interest enough that I decided to join the program. When I did, I concentrated so intensely on the program that I lost sight of my other major, and I started doing well in my Biochem program as well, which convinced me to stay. I got an internship at Genetech, my dream company at the time, and shortly after that, I got a job at Biomarin. All these amazing feats started happening so fast after I joined the program so I stayed, and I am grateful.
What is next for you? Plans for the future?
Despite my time in school and various contracts, I am still unsure of what I want to do. But I recently discovered that it was okay to be unsure. I will graduate in the spring of 2023, and I am looking forward to interning in business roles at any BIOTECH company I can. I would also like to try out this role to narrow down what I truly want to do. I'm looking forward to graduating and continuing to work to see where I go and what I can accomplish. Thank you very much.