Sara Siwiecki working in the lab during her summer REU at Yale.

Sara Siwiecki working in the lab during her summer REU at Yale.

Meet Sara Siwiecki, a rising senior who is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology with a biophysics minor. If you haven’t seen her around campus, you haven’t been looking. Sara not only helps with hagfish research with Professor Fudge, but she is also a member of the Schmid Student Leadership Council, a Supplemental Instruction Leader for General Chemistry Lab, and the Public Relations/Retention Officer for the Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society. In addition, she is a tutor for BIOL 208 Introduction to Molecular Genetics and MATH 203 Introduction to Statistics at the Tutoring, Learning and Testing Center, and she was an Orientation Leader and Peer Mentor last year. Finding her on campus shouldn’t be a challenge, but if you are looking for her this summer, you won’t have any luck.

Sara is spending her summer at an undergraduate research program at Yale. The program focuses on interdisciplinary research in the fields of biological, physical, and engineering sciences. Sara decided to attend this program because this internship is completely interdisciplinary and the most related to what she is studying at Chapman. Interdisciplinary studies are very important to Sara, because, in her words:

“it amaze[s] me to think about how everything in the world, from my body to water to a rock, is simply made of atoms, but these atoms are arranged in so many different ways to cause everything to be different, yet everything is still the same at the core. I enjoy using chemistry, physics, biology, and math to explain the world around me, so I wanted my undergraduate studies to be interdisciplinary.”

In her project, Sara is working with “on the chromatin dynamics of Schizosaccharomyces pombe.” In past research, chromatin motion in the nucleus have been shown to be non-Brownian (or in simpler terms, having ordered movement), so Sara is working to map the “spatial movements of chromatin in the nucleus by determining the number of diffusive states of chromatin”.

Sara Siwiecki sitting outside Yale's School of Medicine where she's participating in a REU.

Sara Siwiecki sitting outside Yale’s School of Medicine where she’s participating in a REU.

She does this by imaging cells under microscopes, and every so often she witnesses something extraordinary. Her favorite thus far has been witnessing a cell “undergoing anaphase where I could see the sister chromatids being separated as I took a movie of the cells”.

Sara is hoping to become a better researcher through this summer program, which will help her tremendously in her future pursuits of a Ph.D. in Biophysics. Sara feels like her experiences at Chapman have prepared her for this internship and what lies ahead saying,

“My research experience in Dr. Fudge’s lab greatly benefited me for this internship in that I felt like I knew what doing research is like. As well as, learning so much about the lac operon in [Dr. Rowland-Goldsmith’s] BIOL 208 class really helped because it is the basis for the methodology of my research in my internship so coming into this project with a solid grip on the lac operon gave me a head start. Thanks, Dr. RG!”

For anyone interesting in applying to summer research programs, Sara recommends that you “start early and do your homework on each and every program you want to apply to” and to make your application “as original and true to yourself as possible”.