Major Mondays: Biology

An interview with Jenny Lee, senior biology major!

How did you pick your major?

I was always kind of interested in biology. But one of the main reasons why I came to Mudd was because I felt like I hadn’t had a really in depth view into the different STEM fields that were available to me. So I wasn’t confident that I was choosing the right path for myself, but after going through the Core and experiencing Bio 52 (Core biology class) that’s how I kind of knew that I wanted to be a bio major.

What extracurricular activities have you done in the biology department?

I tutor for Academic Excellence for biology. I’ve tutored since the first semester of my junior year and it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve also done research since my second semester of my freshman year, and have been working in the same lab since. That’s also been great and it’s been really awesome being able to continue my research into my thesis.  It’s been really cool to see my projects develop and my relationships with both my prof and my lab mates develop.

Can you talk a little bit more about your research? How did it become your thesis project?

I work in Prof Stoebel’s lab which uses E. Coli to study molecular genetics. My projects have changed a little bit throughout the past couple of years, especially with the pandemic really switching up project timelines and things like that. We study how bacteria respond to stress factors. during freshman year I started off with learning and measuring how bacteria respond to cold shocks and also salt shocks, but now I’m more involved in studying the genetic system within that stress response. It’s been a lot of fun first studying the more general stress response and now delving deeper into the genetics behind it.

What’s your favorite non-major class that you have taken?

One of my favorite non major classes I’ve taken is Technology and Medicine with Prof Hamilton. I’ve always been super interested in potentially going into medicine long term or just being really involved in biotech in the coming future. The class really taught me a lot about previous medical interventions that have popped up throughout history. It was really awesome to read papers on what kind of impact they’ve had on society, and to see the racial implications that carried over and also the sexism that existed in the medical field. I think it showed me what things I would like to take into consideration when I work on my future research projects.

Is there anything that surprised you about the biology major?

I expected there to be a lot more enthusiasm in the general community about the biology major, so I guess, a part of me wants to encourage students to explore the biology department. It’s a really special field in my opinion, and I think there’s a lot more to discover.

What are your plans for after graduation?

Especially because of the pandemic, I feel as though I haven’t had as much hands-on work as I would have liked graduating college. My initial plan was to go either straight into grad school or med school after Mudd. Over the past couple of years, I’ve felt like I wish I had more chances to work in a lab full time, and so I am planning on applying to research institutes, or labs where I can be a lab technician or a research associate.