Olivia Gibson

CAS ’25

  • Title CAS ’25

Olivia (CAS ’25) is a sophomore Biology major, and has conducted research in molecular biology in the Wunderlich Lab. Read Olivia’s interview below!

Major(s) and Minor: Biology, CMG

Area of Research: Molecular Biology

Mentor: Dr. Zeba Wunderlich

How did you get involved in research?

I had research experience in high school, so I knew that I wanted to be involved in research as soon as possible. I did research for credit Spring 2022 and conducted my own research with UROP in Summer 2022.

How did you meet your mentor?

I went on my department’s website and looked at every faculty member that had a lab on campus until I found the one that interested me the most: the Wunderlich lab. After emailing Dr. Wunderlich, she and two graduate students interviewed me, and I was offered a spot in the lab.

What has your UROP experience taught you?

This experience has given me a glimpse of what graduate school is like. I had to create a research project, write a proposal, and carry it out myself. Because my project is quite broad, I had to learn to juggle multiple experiments and plan out weeks in advance. It also taught me that there’s more to research than just experiments in academic labs; I attended special lectures, read over a dozen journal articles, and contributed to lab meetings. UROP showed me just how collaborative research is.

How has this experience helped you with non-research related things at BU?

This experience has allowed me to discover research in the academic context and discuss my future with my fellow lab members. I also became much better at explaining complex topics to people who aren’t as familiar with scientific language. The summer program in particular allowed me to build stronger relationships within my lab and with fellow students. I spent my UROP summer studying the relationship between stress and the epigenetic factors in the fruit fly immune system. I not only learned so many lab skills, but I also discovered career options I never thought about before.

What does a day in your research life look like?

No day is the same when it comes to my research, but I typically start the day by checking on my flies. Over any given day, I have over 100 flies in experiments, and I had to record the survival of all of them. If it is a microinjection day, I make the needles myself and grow bacteria that will be injected into the flies. I usually spend the next 3 hours injecting flies; it’s pretty tedious because these tiny flies are awake during this process, and it’s difficult to inject them at the right spot when they move. Aside from injections, I spend a lot of time reading related journal articles and analyzing data.

What advice would you give to someone interested in UROP? 

If you’re interested in research, it never hurts to ask people for research opportunities, because the worst they can say is no. I had been turned down by other labs before interviewing for my current lab, and it did not affect my future whatsoever. I still found someone who was willing to take me on, and even provide me with more opportunities than I would have had at other labs. I not only work on my graduate student’s project, I also perform my own unique research because I asked to do so. There’s no harm in asking for opportunities even if you feel you’re under-qualified, because you don’t know who will take you on.

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