What was your first experience in biotechnology?
My first experience in biotechnology was in school! I remember being in disbelief that it’s possible to isolate specific stretches of DNA, then recombine those DNA fragments to form a new DNA fragment. Once one realizes that this, in theory, can be accomplished with any stretch of DNA from any species, the possibilities presented by biotechnology become very profound.
What do you want others to know about your current project(s)?
At the moment, I’m using biotechnological methods to research the immune systems of bats. Bats have been observed to contract viruses considered lethal to other mammals, yet they show no signs of illness. How bats are capable of this is not understood. Using biotechnological techniques, I’ve been able to sequence the immune genes of bats to better understand their immune response.
How does Biotech Without Borders help you with your goals?
BwoB provides the facilities, equipment, and scientific community to make research possible for anyone who wishes to answer a scientific question. Beyond the lessons learned in my internship, BwoB provided me with a space to spread my wings and truly experiment. Having the opportunity to test my own curiosities without the rigidity of an academic or industrial lab has been essential to my development as a biotechnologist.
How do you imagine/see biotechnology improving the lives of all on this planet?
We can already thank biotechnology for the development of bread, cheese, and beer – this certainly has improved the lives of all on the planet. Beyond food and drink, I think the most exciting advances in biotechnology include gene editing technology. This of course must be approached with caution because, if abused, gene editing can create bioethical dilemmas. If used responsibly, gene editing technologies could create a whole new world of therapeutic approaches to genetic conditions. This will undoubtedly advance the biomedical field, improving the lives of all on the planet.
Outside of biotech, what’s something you find fun?
Outside of Biotech, I’m an active musician and performer in New York City! Most of my music work is on Broadway and playing with the orchestras of Lincoln Center. I’ve found that the creativity and attention to detail needed for music is very compatible with science – the two fields complement each other very nicely.