Alina Soto Obando (2012)
VU Mentor: Alyssa Hasty
My name is Alina Soto and I am studying Biology in Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru. Even though I’m still an undergraduate student, I’m definitely considering enrolling in a PhD. program here. I’m profoundly interested in biomedical research; I’m especially interested in cellular and metabolic pathways and genetic expression involving cancer and autoimmune diseases. In Peru I’m part of the Bioinformatics team so VISRA is giving me the opportunity to be involved with different biochemistry techniques which will allow me to enhance my research skills, both theoretical and applied.
I’m so pleased to say that I’m working in PhD. Alyssa Hasty’s lab. At the beginning coming to a new place made me a little shy and a bit edgy but eventually I felt more and more comfortable thanks to the people from my lab, especially with the lab meetings (one per week). The way we discuss topics, share knowledge and viewpoints, bringing forth various aspects of a topic opens the floodgates of imagination for me. Biology or any science in general demands multidisciplinary approach, which for me begins with those lab meetings and somehow everything seems to make sense afterwards. My summer project is focused on the apoptosis rate of macrophages in the adipose tissue. I know that this summer program will allow me to learn practical lab work and research skills that are going to prove beneficial for me in the years to follow.
VISRA is an amazing program that involves, for example, enrichment sessions which provide you with all the information you need for applying to any research program in US, they give you an insight of what university looks for while reviewing a graduate application. The program also involves everything about GRE, ranging from what it is to actually prepare you to take it. I think that it will be pertinent to say that VISRA is teaching us to strike a balance in our life both inside and outside lab. So the trips that are arranged every weekend totally recharge you for the challenges to follow.
Last but not least, as an advice to any future participants: just relax, you’re heading towards some great time in Nashville, the place is beautiful and the other participants make you feel home, even though they are from different nations. And just try to make the best of this golden opportunity because, believe me, it’s going to do wonders to your life ahead.