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Researcher of the Week: Ariana Taj

Ariana's Advice? Don't delay! Find your passion!

May 15, 2018 10:56 AM

Ariana  is a double major in Biology (BA) and Psychology (BA), who will graduate in 2019. She is a member of the Honors College and 2018-19 URA Scholar.

Title of your research project:  Rat Prostate Cancer Model

Describe your project: To create a floxed P53 rat, for prostate specific P53 loss.

Who is your mentor(s) for your projectMy mentors are Michael Rubenstein and Dr. Bieberich from the Biology Department. I found my mentor by talking to my bio 141 TA, who advised me to email specific professors at UMBC that encompassed my interests in genetic research, cancer research, and working with animal models. 

How did you become interested in this project? I became interested in this project because I had a passion for cancer treatment and research, and have a strong interest in how genetics influence disease initiation and progression. I also was excited to work closely with rats and mice given I had previously worked in animal care. Another aspect of my research that caught my interest is that I would conduct different surgical procedures on rats and mice. Given that I want to become a physician, this is exciting because I am able to learn and practice some skills I will later learn in medical school.

What has been the hardest part about your research/what was the most unexpected thing about being a researcher? The hardest part about research is that a seemingly simple experiment can fail countless times before it will work. Often, these experiments are composed of dozens of steps that take up anywhere from several hours to several days. It can get disheartening, but it’s important to not give up. From watching my mentor, I have found that resiliency is an important quality of a strong researcher.

What has been the most rewarding part?  The most rewarding part about my research is that I am able to contribute to the progress of cancer research, even though my role is small. By being a part of the research community, I am able to see all the progress cancer research has already made, and this inspires me to work hard.

How will you disseminate your research? I presented at the UMSOM 9th Annual Cancer Biology Research Retreat on April 30th. I have also presented at URCAD in the spring of 2017, and will again next spring (2019).

What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?  My advice is to not delay. The sooner you can get started in research, the better understanding you will have about what your passions are, and the more time you will have to contribute to your lab.

What are your career goals? My career goals are to become a Pediatric Oncologist and to integrate research into my daily working life. 

[Article originally posted on Undergraduate Research's myUMBC group]

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