Reinhardt is proud to hear of students like Salvador Castillo, who choose to use their school breaks to pursue knowledge. Here is his story about working in a molecular biology lab over the summer.
My name is Salvador Castillo, I am in my final semester here at Reinhardt University. This past summer I was fortunate enough to participate in a summer research experience for undergrads (REU) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The program I was in was called Biological Interactions (BI). It was through this experience that I gained much insight into what “research” really means and how I can be a researcher myself. Students were provided numerous resources such as career panels, grad fairs, grad school application information, and much more.
The project I was able to work on focused on galactose metabolism in yeast. The ability of yeast to metabolize galactose relies on three genes, but some species have retained only one of them and lost the others. So, the project asked why has this gene been retained – is it functional to begin with and what other role could it be playing? I worked under the Hittinger Lab at UW-Madison alongside my mentor Linda Horianopoulos, a post-doc in the lab. I learned so many skills both in and outside the lab. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity as it has further assured my decision to apply for graduate school.
As far as opportunities like these go, try doing some (they can even be little), and research when applications are due as early as you can! You’d be surprised how many there are. In addition, do not feel discouraged about applying too late. You do not have to be one of the first to have applied – I knew people accepted into the program who applied the week the application was due. The last thing I would say is to take that chance even if you know it will be uncomfortable. After reflecting on my experience and hearing from others in the program, this summer changed the trajectory of what we had planned after undergrad.