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Meet Caleigh Roleck Undergrad Intern


I am a rising junior majoring in the Biology Department's Biochemistry program, and upon completion of my Bachelor's Degree, I plan on pursuing a PhD and embarking on a career as a government or military scientist. The William H. Phillips scholarship is a valuable opportunity for me to experience conducting research as a full-time job, and this summer, I will be spending my days at Bindley Bioscience Center with Dr. Jenna Rickus and Dr. Kevin Solomon. My research is through the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) program, in which student-led teams of undergraduate researchers design and complete a synthetic biology research project, which they then present at an international competitive conference. This year, we are engineering bacteria to degrade benzene, a carcinogen and toxin, and to incorporate the products into metabolism. We are then establishing in vitro proof of concept for a proposed medical therapy in which bacteria native to the lung microbiome are engineered and then introduced into the lungs in order to degrade benzene as it is inhaled. Additionally, we have used a multiple sequence alignment-approach in order to generate novel promoters and ribosome binding sites, which we will then test.

 My role on the team is the project director, in which I am responsible for managing a team of four interns and planning project design and  daily labwork, in addition to performing my own experimentation. I am grateful for the opportunities provided to me by the William H. Phillips scholarship because it provides me with my first opportunity to manage a scientific research project. My internship grants me leadership experience in a scientific setting, as well as allowing me to learn valuable new research techniques, both of which would be helpful to me in my career as a military scientist. Meanwhile, throughout this process, I get the opportunity to work with and learn from a variety of professors and graduate students. Through them, I have not only learned about the research process, but I've also learned how to most effectively present my research and how to best prepare myself for graduate school and my future career. My internship has provided me with a set of skills and experiences that I believe will give me a competitive edge to my graduate school and career applications down the line.

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