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Iowa State University

Iowa State University


Undergraduate Genetics - Learning Community

"Genetics: The Secret of Life"
Peer Mentors, 2013 - 2014

Garrett Smith, Senior in Genetics and Microbiology, College of AGLS

  • Hometown
    • San Diego, CA
  • Career Plans
    • First, I will go to grad school and see what they know. In the more distant future, I think it would be valuable to develop a method of growing Archaea in non-extreme environments. Who knows what else these organisms could do?
  • Clubs/Activities
    • MIcro Club, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council, undergraduate research come fall 2013. I also enjoy participating in the Relay for Life in March.
  • Favorite Course or Class-Related Experience
    • MIcro 320 and 440 with Professor Halverson. I will not dispute the rigor of the courses. However, I found these classes quite interesting and valuable. In the lecture, 320, we learn pretty much about everything bacterial. For instance, did you know that proteins can be assembled by mechanisms other than ribosomes, and in fact this is how many antibiotics are made? In the lab, 440, we do lots of molecular biology and ended up doing rDNA sequence analysis and editing, among many other things, and ultimately producing a huge paper nearly fit to be published. Not quite publishable material, but as close as you might get in class!
  • Favorite Quote from "The Language of Life"
    • Some people are resistant to some strains of HIV due to a 32 bp deletion in a receptor gene, resulting in a complete loss of function mutation. As Francis S. Collins describes it, "This deletion of 32 base pairs is therefore a particularly severe one, since 32 is not divisible by three. We call this a frameshift mutation because it throws off the reading frame. If your DNA has such a mutation, iti slik ereadin gword slik ethes e."
  • What I wish I'd known the first day of class!
    • You aren't in Kansas anymore. It is important to know where you are and where you are going. Use landmarks - my favorite is the water tower.

Lillian Howard, Junior in Genetics

  • Hometown
    • Clutier, Iowa
  • Career Plans
    • My goal is to have a career as a genetic counselor.
  • Clubs/Activities
    • I am currently president of Genetics Club and a member of Colleges Against Cancer.I have worked in a genetics lab and was also an active member of the Freshmen Honors Program as well as Women in Science and Engineering.
  • Favorite Course or Class-Related Experience
    • I had the opportunity to take part in a course called HON 322B. It was a study abroad course and we went to Belize over spring break to build stoves and latrines for the Mayan villages. It was a great experience and I encourage everyone to get involved in study abroad if they are able.
  • Favorite Quote from "The Language of Life"
    • “If you started this book with the notion that you are a perfect genetic specimen, I have bad news for you. There are none.”
  • What I wish I'd known the first day of class!
    • I wish I hadn’t blown off the idea of attending SI and getting a tutor so fast. Looking back, I think they would have helped that first semester.

Jered Stratton, Sophomore in Genetics, College of LAS

  • Hometown
    • Secor, Ilinois
  • Career Plans
    • I plan on attending the graduate program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Later, I’d like to work on understanding epigenetic pathways, how they are regulated, and how they influence future generations and evolution.
  • Clubs/Activities
    • Genetics Club, Barton Anders Honors House, Undergraduate research in Dr. Valenzuela’s lab. I also play the guitar and mandolin in my free time.
  • Favorite Course or Class-Related Experience
    • Hon 290 with Dr. Valenzuela. The Honors Mentor Program was a great way to meet faculty working in genetics and to get first-hand experience with research. Students will often continue working with their faculty member later on or, if they realize research isn’t the best fit, it’s much better to learn that early. It was also very rewarding to see my mentor talk about her research on the front page of the news bulletin and know I had a contributing hand in the discoveries.
  • Favorite Quote from "The Language of Life"
    • As more and more research goes into genetics, we have a tendency to attribute more behavioral and personality traits to heredity alone when environment plays a large role as well. As far as criminality goes, certain genetic variations may cause an increase in aggressive tendencies, but there is a big debate over whether this is influential in court decisions. As Francis Collins states, “After all, approximately half of the U.S. population carries a genetic risk factor that places people at a sixteen fold higher likelihood of imprisonment than the other half. That happens to be the Y chromosome.”.
  • What I wish I'd known the first day of class!
    • There is a multitude of people on campus who want to help you with virtually anything. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Even if someone doesn’t have the answer, they probably know where you can find it. You’re not the only one to have asked that question.

Iman Kashmola, Sophomore in Genetics, College of LAS

  • Hometown
    • San Diego, California
  • Career Plans
    • To attend medical school, pursuing a career in clinical genetics or surgery.
  • Clubs/Activities
    • I am currently working in a bioinformatics lab on campus, and hold the position of secretary for the Genetics Club. I am a member of ISU's pre-med club, and was on the Social Justice committee for Freshmen Council.
  • Favorite Course or Class-Related Experience
    • My favorite course so far has been Biology 211 with Professor Nancy Boury. She was effectively able to make learning taxonomy and classification interesting and enjoyable! My favorite class-related experience was touring Dr. Don Sakaguchi's lab. I knew that I wanted to obtain a lab position here on campus, and walking into one and looking at his undergraduate students doing hands-on work really motivated me to find a position by the end of my freshman year.
  • Favorite Quote from "The Language of Life"
    • "Your DNA helix, your language of life, can also be your own textbook of medicine. Learn to read it. Learn to celebrate it. It could save your life."
  • What I wish I'd known the first day of class!
    • Don't be afraid of speaking up and standing out. If you have a question, ask. The professors are people too, they'll listen if you take the initiative and put forth the effort to get something done.

 



Jered


Iman