Organization: University of Florida – Blueberry Breeding Program
Position Title: Lab Research Assistant
I am currently a senior at the University of Florida majoring in biology with a specialization in biotechnology and a minor in entomology. I participated in the Bioscience Technology Program at Oviedo High School in Central Florida and earned my BACE credentials my senior year of high school. Due to this opportunity, I have been able to work in a variety of biotechnology labs at the University of Florida and participate in an internship at Walt Disney World focusing on entomology and the future of agriculture. The BACE helped emphasize the importance of research and led me to actively encourage others to engage in research early with the Center for Undergraduate Research at the University of Florida.
While considering majors in college, I relied heavily on the experience I gained through preparing for the BACE. This preparation helped guide me, as I discovered a desire to pursue a career in biotechnology. Earning the BACE credential helped propel me into research and gave me an advantage when searching for laboratory opportunities. The education associated with passing the BACE made me a competitive applicant for research positions as an undergraduate. The BACE impressed upon me the importance of early research, and I am currently serving on the Center for Undergraduate Research Board of Students executive board as the Director of External Affairs with the goal of increasing undergraduate participation in research. I have enjoyed these experiences immensely, and the BACE set this foundation for me in high school. Due to the BACE and the experiences it led me to, I plan to continue research in graduate school and as a career afterward.
Working for the Blueberry Breeding Program at the University of Florida, I am lucky enough to have a wide variety of duties every day. A day can include a multitude of molecular techniques, such as extracting DNA from plant tissue, amplifying DNA with PCR, analyzing DNA with gel electrophoresis, and assisting with genetic transformation experiments. Another day may consist of more macroscopic techniques, which include field sampling and introducing plants into tissue culture. One of the macroscopic projects I participated in involved investigating lighting conditions for Southern Highbush Blueberry in tissue culture.
My favorite part about my job is utilizing various cutting-edge techniques to help grow the knowledge base in both the macroscopic and microscopic realms while learning from amazing scientists.