I attended ETSU for my undergraduate degree beginning in 1991. I graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor's in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Plant Sciences and a minor in Fine Art. When I first began my college career, I was a Nursing major. I wanted to be a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are master’s and doctorate prepared advanced practice nurses who enjoy a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in every practice setting, and for every type of surgery or procedure. They are the sole anesthesia providers in nearly all rural hospitals, and the main provider of anesthesia to the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. - American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology
Life happened and I took time off from college for a couple of years. I used to take an art class every semester for stress management. I often took physical education courses as well to stay fit. When I returned to ETSU, I attended part-time until my last year. I took as many classes as I could each semester, including summer classes. I graduated in May of 1999 and got my first laboratory job in June 1999 at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine.
ETSU-QCOM Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
I worked in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for about a year. My salary has always been grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) when I've worked in the laboratory at colleges and universities. This position was funded by a grant to characterize the genome of a human parasitic protozoan. I helped sequence part of the genome of Trichomonas vaginalis in an effort to improve treatment with the drug Metronidazole
Trichomonas vaginalis is a flagellated protist that causes trichomoniasis, a common but overlooked sexually transmitted human infection, with ~170 million cases occurring annually worldwide. The extracellular parasite resides in the urogenital tract of both sexes and can cause vaginitis in women and urethritis and prostatitis in men. - Draft Genome Sequence of the Sexually Transmitted Pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis
In the short time I was there, I perfected the technique for amplifying DNA known as Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). I gained a lot of experience with Southern blot analysis and DNA sequencing as well. We never published any data, but it was my first involvement in a research laboratory and I was hooked. I wanted to learn more.
My next adventure took me to the University of Virginia. More on that soon...