June 22, 2020
As part of the inaugural class participating in The Arch at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, rising senior Lucretia Shumate ’21, a dual biochemistry/biophysics and bioinformatics/molecular biology major, secured a fall semester away research internship at Magee Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Solving real-world problems and impacting women’s lives every day, Magee-Women’s Research Institute and Foundation focuses their research efforts on reproductive development, pregnancy and newborn medicine, infectious disease, gynecology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility, women’s cancers, and women’s wellness. Established in 1992, they are the largest research institute in the United States with a multitude of partnerships across the U.S. and around the globe.
Selected for the internship opportunity by Dr. Judith Yanowitz, Shumate conducted research in the Yanowitz Lab that focused on understanding the underlying causes of chromosome missegregation during the formation of egg and sperm. Throughout her internship, Shumate worked on two independent research projects including histone antibody staining of C. elegans gonads in order to evaluate histone presence in aging gonads. The second project was analyzing gene influence of recombination frequency on C. elegans Chromosome I, using SNP mapping.
As a dual major in biochemistry/biophysics and bioinformatics/molecular biology, Shumate was given a good base for the research she conducted. And, the experience gained throughout her away experience — including lab techniques, critical thinking and presentation skills, and linking academic theory to real-world applications — has been beneficial to her professional portfolio and continued studies at Rensselaer.
When asked what advice she would give to fellow classmates, Shumate said, “Work with the Center for Career and Professional Development, professors, advisers, department heads, and connections either from Rensselaer or employers you’ve met throughout your search. I also strongly recommend starting your search early and doing research on prospective opportunities.” Shumate also took advantage of the many resources available at Rensselaer, including the Advising & Learning Assistance Center, Writing Center, and office hours offered by advisers and professors.
“I have been given the wonderful opportunity to learn under excellent professors. I very much enjoy the hands-on curriculum that I feel will prepare me for a career in research. I also enjoy being around and engaging with the wonderful and very accepting student body,” said Shumate.
Shumate was invited back to Magee Women’s Research Center to continue her research this summer and is presently waiting for the lab to reopen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, she is writing a research paper about the work she accomplished during her Arch away research experience that she hopes to publish. After graduating from Rensselaer, she plans to pursue her Ph.D. in molecular genetics.