Roanoke College Senior Conducts and Presents Research at UC Davis

by Marcus Stewart on September 28, 2015

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Over the summer of 2015, Maya Shende, a senior at Roanoke College, decided to do a Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) at UC Davis in Davis, California. She worked in Justin Siegel’s lab in the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Center along with eight other undergraduates.

Maya participated in a ten week program that involved time in North Carolina, California, and Washington. During her first week, Maya went to Raleigh, North Carolina to learn about the Rosetta codebase, a molecular biology/chemistry codebase. Most of her time in the program, however, was spent at UC Davis working on her research project.

“My project involved protein-protein and protein-small molecule interfaces. I was looking at the contacts made between two docked proteins or a protein docked with a small molecule, to see if there was a way to quantify the number of contacts in order to further understanding of protein-protein and protein-small molecule interactions. All of this work was done computationally and all of the docking simulations were run using the Rosetta code.”

For the last week of the REU, Maya went to Seattle, Washington, where she and eight other undergraduates presented their research. One of Maya’s favorite parts of the summer was the conference in Seattle.

“RosettaCon was one of the coolest conferences I have ever been to. First, I was essentially surrounded by celebrities in the world of computational molecular biology and computational chemistry. I spent a week having intellectual conversations with some of the forerunners of the field and learning so much every day. Second, presenting my work to such esteemed scholars in the field was a great experience. Not only did I get an opportunity to better my presentation skills, but I also got great feedback about different routes I could take with my research.”

Maya’s advice to anyone interested in research is to start early.

“The more research you do as an undergraduate, the more you learn and more competitive you will be after graduating. Research is also a great way to learn things that you can’t learn in a classroom environment. It is a way to explore topics that are interesting to you, and apply what you learn in your classes to coming up with solutions to real problems!”

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