Ka’Shawn Robertson

Being an undergraduate researcher in the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at Michigan State University was a great experience. Prior to being accepted to this program, I had previous research experience at another university. Coming into this program, I thought I would be fully prepared and I wouldn't have to learn much pertaining to techniques. Rest assured, I was proven wrong.

My project was to use enzymes from diverse organisms to increase the entry step of an important plant pathway called the MEP (methylerythritol 4-phosphate) pathway. I was unfamiliar with this topic and how it related to biofuels, but after a bunch of research and learning from my mentors, I felt confident in my understanding of the objectives of the study. First, my PI, Bjoern Hamberger, was very friendly; I don't think I could have asked for a better PI. Even though my postdoc mentor, Aparajita Banerjee, had limited time to mentor me due to having a baby shortly after I arrived, she was very helpful in helping me understand a lot of the background research. Jacob Bibik, a graduate student in the lab, helped me learn a bunch of molecular biology techniques, gave me advice, and was a friendly person who everyone could be comfortable around. The entire lab environment was amazing and meeting other people in different labs was great and I enjoyed every minute of lab work. It was truly something special.

Outside of lab work, I found the free time easily filled. The campus is huge and even being there for 10 weeks I didn't explore all of Michigan State. But I had a really good time with my fellow interns. At first, I wasn't sure on how the summer would go since it was just two guys and five girls. But it turned out pretty well; we did a lot of activities together and my favorite ones were going to Lake Lansing, Holland, Grand Haven, and Eric Hegg’s cabin and many more. 

When the end of program was approaching, everyone was feeling down since we wanted to learn so much more from each other. Overall my experience was great at Michigan State University and I just want to thank Chrislyn Particka for giving me this great opportunity; it was truly special something I will never forget.