Student Research: Esther Miller

By: Gitty Boshnack  |  October 20, 2021

By: Gitty Boshnack, Sci-Tech Editor 

Gitty Boshnack (GB): Hi Esther, thank you for taking the time to meet with me. Let’s start by getting to know you a bit.

Esther Miller (EM): Hi Gitty, thank you for giving me this opportunity. My name is Esther Miller, and I am currently a junior and in my second year on campus. I am majoring in biochemistry and hope to pursue a career in the medical field. 

GB: How did you get involved in this research?

EM: I had reached out to Dr. Anya Alayev earlier in the spring semester, asking her for a research position in her lab for the following fall semester. At that point, she did not have an answer for me but did offer me a position in her lab that summer. I had some days available in my summer plans, so I immediately jumped on this opportunity. 

GB: What did you hope to gain from this research experience?

EM: I had never worked in a research lab before, so I was hoping to get a feel for it. I wanted to know more about the research process and also be able to contribute to worldwide scientific research. I wanted to learn new things outside of a classroom setting and get more hands-on experience.

GB: What did you study in the lab, and whom did you study under?

EM: I studied under Dr. Anya Alayev and Dr. David Musheyev. I looked at triple-negative breast cancer cells and saw whether or not there was cell proliferation when they were treated with different medications. 

 GB: What does Dr. Alayev hope to achieve with this research?

EM: Dr. Alayev hopes to make progress in treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer is unique because it lacks certain receptors that are targets for treatments, making it a little more tricky to treat. 

GB: Did you or the lab encounter any obstacles in the research?

EM: When performing any experiment, repetition is important to ensure that no errors are being made and that the results are consistent. We had to do the same exact experiment multiple times in our lab since our results were inconsistent. At some points, it felt a little frustrating since the experiment took over a week to complete, but every time we redid it, we learned something new and another trick to make it more accurate.

GB: What was something that interested you from your research experience?

EM: I had never worked in a research lab before, so getting to use all of the different types of equipment and apparatus was very interesting. 

GB: What are some skills that you developed?

EM: I learned how to count cells and split them so we would be able to perform different experiments on them and have enough of them. 

GB: Do you have any advice for students who are trying to get lab positions?

EM: Something that I struggled with was that I was too late for the game. Never think that it is too early to start asking professors to work in their lab. Spots are limited and fill up quickly, so if you hope to work in a lab, get working and ask everyone you can. 

GB: This was so interesting! I learned so much about your productive summer. Thank you so much for sharing.