Sherry Sun

The 2022 GLBRC Summer Undergraduate Research Program participants pose for a picture while kayaking on Lake Lansing. Kayaking on Lake Lansing

This summer I had a great time working in Dr. Brandizzi Federica’s lab, sponsored by Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. I am always into plant biology, and this program offered a unique opportunity to research improving the productivity of bioenergy crops. It was so exciting to get engaged in a cutting-edge lab that is closely related to the industry.

As my mentor, Dae Kwan Ko was incredibly patient and accommodating. I still remember that first day when I met Dae Kwan and found out about his expertise in biocomputing, I decided to ditch my previous plan and learn biocomputing from him. Although I had zero experience in the field, he showed great support and designed a small RNA sequencing project for me immediately. Throughout the ten weeks, I learned so many new things about RNA analysis, visualization, and other downstream analyses. The overall vibe in the lab was very genuine as well. We would start lab meeting off with the “Monkey Tradition”, in which a person passes the monkey to another person that has helped him or her the most, sometimes with a bar of chocolate.

On weekday nights, the GLBRC program organized so many cool workshops, including graduate student panels, MSU energy station tours, field expeditions, and so on. As a rising junior, those activities helped me meet people from different fields and reflect on myself in my future education and career. On weekends, some other GLBRC students and I would go out to explore the area. We went to see the arboretums in Detroit, kayak in Lake Lansing, pet animals near Kellogg Biology Station, and share scoops in the MSU dairy store. We all had an excellent work-life balance.

By the end of the program, we did poster presentations and learned about what other people had been doing. This was my first summer outside my home institution, and I never imagined it to be so much fun. Though time flies, the connections I made at MSU will be long-lasting. I am so grateful for participating in the GLBRC program!

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