Although Biochemistry at UMass is a very focused major, it has allowed me to be incredibly flexible with my education. Biochemistry is the basis for many different sciences, so I constantly find myself excited when there is overlap with my other courses such as Microbiology and Public Health. As I enter my junior year pursuing majors in Biochemistry and Public Health, I am so grateful for the BMB faculty as they have been some of my greatest mentors.
This past summer, I spent my time outside of lab advising incoming CNS students on choosing classes for their first semester. It is so encouraging to see so many new faces entering UMass excited about their education. Some of the questions I got asked most frequently were about a BMB major's ability to take courses outside of their major and also be involved on campus. Although it is a challenging major, the out-of-classroom experiences make your time here at UMass and are completely worth it. It is important to explore all of your opportunities in order to find your niche. Getting involved in a research lab is a great way to find mentors such as grad students and your PI, but also to invest your time in a project where you really become the expert. One of my most exciting and focusing experiences so far has been working in Professor Jesse Mager's lab in the Vet and Animal Sciences department, studying epigenetic regulation during embryonic development. I spent this past summer looking at RNAseq data verifying known imprinted genes, as well as looking at novel ones. I was exposed to this lab from a fellow BMB student when I was a freshman in the Biochem club. It is important to not be afraid to ask for advice or opportunities from others, especially if they share similar interests! The Biochem club has allowed me to meet many students and Professors that have guided me in my undergraduate career. Let yourself explore your opportunities and everything the university has to offer.
One of my biggest pieces of advice is to go outside of your comfort zone. These experiences will shape you the most and allow you to narrow your goals. I did not know that I wanted to pursue Public Health as well as BMB until I took an international education class my freshman year. From this class, I was able to connect with the professor and have some incredible discussions about the lack of connection between hard sciences such as BMB and communication to the general public. I hope to combine my love for both science and policy to eventually do research at a facility such as the National Institute of Health or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Use your upper-level electives to take graduate courses within the BMB department such as drug design, or look outside the department at classes such as advanced biostatistics, or even something not related to science. I am confident that the Biochemistry department will allow me to combine my many different interests and fulfill my dreams.