Undergraduate Research: Training the Next Generation of Scientists – APU Articles
Only two years after graduating from Azusa Pacific, Hannah Valencia ’20 brings knowledge and practice from her major in biology and excellent experience as a research associate in the lab of Yuman Fong, MD, City of Hope. training is already being used. Her work includes the development of new immunotherapeutic approaches to treat cancer, and she is already published in Molecular Therapy Methods and Clinical Development for her research contributions to the treatment of breast cancer. Featured author of a journal article. An accomplished young scientist, she attributes her success to the skills she developed as an undergraduate researcher at APU under the guidance of her Dr. Sarah Richart, professor of biochemistry. thinking about.
“When I got the job at City of Hope, the lab practices I learned at APU allowed me to succeed in a fast-paced environment where many experiments were being conducted simultaneously and could be overwhelming,” she said. Told. “Recording my experiments and using online academic resources helped me to better understand the importance of my experiments with the overarching project goals in mind. ‘s education sparked my curiosity, which is what drives my research and keeps me motivated in the lab today.”
Valencia’s research journey began early as an undergraduate, in her sophomore year. The Department of Biology and Chemistry emphasizes the importance of experiential learning through student-to-scholar programs. In this program, students have the opportunity to participate in faculty-student research partnerships throughout the academic year and during the summer. This unique experience allows students to direct the development of research projects under the guidance of faculty. Projects include areas such as regenerative medicine, pharmacology, global change, and cancer biology.
“When it comes to research projects, the sky is the limit,” says Richard. “I help students get started, but I am free in how they plan their experiments and how they test their hypotheses.” At APU, it is part of the structure of undergraduate scientific training.
Richard’s research focused on the analysis of Aspergillus sclerotiorum, a termite-pathogenic fungus, signifying the discovery of a natural insecticide. Valencia studied its effect on Drosophila cell cycle arrest and compounds secreted by the fungus that could inhibit cell division, leading to an understanding of the mechanisms of virulence.
A hands-on research mentor, Richard supports student growth and development of conceptual understanding and technical execution. She is often in the laboratory, guiding students to develop skills in experimental planning and execution, data analysis, good record keeping, and scientific communication. Ultimately, Richard guides students to become independent researchers.
“Throughout my undergraduate research experience, Dr. Richard asked me a lot of questions and encouraged me to be resourceful,” says Valencia.
In addition to guiding scientific progress, Richard has also modeled work-life balance for her graduate students, and Valencia continues to prepare this modeling to combat burnout in her current career. says there is.
Another important element of Richard’s teaching is faith integration. “She encouraged me to attend a seminar hosted by APU and taught me how faith is intrinsically linked to our call to be good stewards of the environment.” Valencia said. “Her insistence on using science to better understand and care for our environment perfectly illustrates how she uses her career and her beliefs to drive change. It’s a lesson I want to learn.”
During her studies at APU, Valencia learned various experimental techniques such as cell culture, flow cytometry, western blotting and proliferation assays, and was encouraged to pursue opportunities to publish and fund her research. In 2020, she won first prize for her presentation of Best in the Cell/Molecules category at her Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society district convention, and to continue her research progress. Awarded a competitive undergraduate research fellowship by the American Society for Microbiology. These types of research experiences are characteristic of APU’s experience in biology and chemistry and prepare APU students to be highly competitive for admission to graduate programs and careers in research.
For Valencia, this exposure sparked a lifelong love of science. She also wants to explore unknown sciences and collaborate and mentor people who create new knowledge. She recognizes the invaluable impact that Richard’s mentorship has had on her development as a researcher, and plans to pay it forward in training the next generation of scientists.
Posted on: August 22, 2022