A question & answer session to get to know the 2023 GG Scholar Megan Welch, 1st year graduate student in the GG Scholars Program.

What aspect of genetics and/or genomics most interests you?

I like genetics because I see it as the smallest form of life that we can study. Small genetic changes can have a big impact. I like looking at those genetic changes and trying to understand their influence at the cellular level. I have a particular interest in looking at cellular changes that occur during pathogen infection or when DNA damage occurs. 

What (or Who) influenced you to go into your field of study?

I am fortunate to have had many peers encouraging me along this journey. Dr. Trino Ascencio-Ibáñez was my undergraduate PI who first introduced me to what research on the bench could look like. He is an excellent resource for any undergraduate students looking to get involved in research. Then a coworker, Dr. Kate Zaulf helped me build my confidence in the lab and encouraged me to grow as a scientist.

Who or what do you hope benefits from your research?

A lot of my research interests revolve around understanding infectious diseases and cancer. I am really interested in understanding our cells’ response to pathogenic infection and tumor growth. I hope that better treatments and drug products can be developed from my research.

How can your research be used to inform decision makers (e.g. policy makers, resource managers, health practitioners, K12 educators, etc etc)?

I want to help people better understand what is going on inside of themselves because I think this is a mystery for a lot of people. I want to help them make better decisions about their overall health. As we learn more about diseases, I hope we can educate doctors and health care providers to better treat patients.

What do you think is the most pressing issue or problem in your field of study?

I see the spread of misinformation as being an issue in genetics and genomics. There is a lot of false information out there on the internet. I hope to be a part of a research team producing good data and debunking false information.

How do you expect the GG Scholars program to impact your work?

I think the GG Scholars program will give me a strong foundation to build on. Also, it will introduce me to a lot of creative and knowledgeable people with whom I might want to collaborate with in the future.

How would you describe your research interests to a 3rd grader?

Just like you learn the alphabet that makes words, sentences, and books, I look at the alphabet that makes humans, animals, and plants.

What’s your dream job?

I would not say I have a dream job, but rather a dream job environment. I want to be surrounded by people who ask questions and learn from each other. I want to be encouraged and to encourage others to pursue their passion for research.