I was born in Hiram, a small town about an hour east of Cleveland.
Role at Department:
I'm a first-year PhD student in Hung-Ying Kao's lab.
Quick and dirty method of changing gene expression patterns
I work on UHRF1, a protein involved in maintaining DNA methylation patterns. The reason DNA methylation is so cool is that it is a quick and dirty method of changing gene expression patterns. When cancer is developing or a new species is evolving, the changes that occur are often gene expression changes rather than actual coding mutations. UHRF1 is over-expressed in a lot of cancers, so it might be involved in suppressing genes that would normally prevent tumor formation.
Get to know all the other incoming students pretty quickly
A lot of people I talk to think of Case as a small school. My undergraduate degree is from a college with about 1200 students, so I don't agree; however, the environment is very similar. One of the first courses you take as a graduate student is called “The Correlated Curriculum in Cell and Molecular Biology.” I know it sounds like a nightmare, and it can be difficult at times, but most, if not all incoming graduate students in the life sciences take it, so you get to know all the other incoming students pretty quickly.
Labs collaborate rather than competing
People always go out of their way to provide reagents you need, or explain why you should use a different protocol for the experiment you are running. The professors are always willing to help, and labs collaborate rather than competing, which can be a big issue at some research institutions. On the other hand, access to the facilities of University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic means that being at a smaller school doesn't hold you back in terms of the equipment available.
Good sized city with tons of stuff to do
Cleveland is a good sized city with tons of stuff to do, but the cost of living is much more reasonable than other cities this size. Case is located perfectly as well. I live less than a mile from campus, in a neighborhood called Cedar-Fairmount, with everything I need within biking or walking distance. I have a car, but I rarely use it. University Circle, right next to campus, is the location of several museums, and Severence Hall, the home of the Cleveland Orchestra. Public transportation makes it easy to get downtown, or to the airport, or most of Cleveland for that matter.
if you can't find what you want here, there is more within a short drive
The Cleveland area provides plenty to do year round, and if you can't find what you want here, there is more within a short drive. In town my favorite things to do are attending Indians and Cavs games, going to concerts (whether rock or classical) or plays at nearby Playhouse Square and climbing indoors at the Cleveland Rock Gym. Nearby there is biking at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park or Kelley's Island, SCUBA diving or fishing on Lake Erie, skiing at Peek n' Peak resort, or riding roller coasters at Cedar Point. If all that sounds too exciting for you I also enjoy photography, reading and playing Wii or watching movies with friends.
Astronaut training program
My backup plan is to teach at a small college and possibly help coach swimming or cross country, but first I plan to apply for the astronaut training program. I'm one of the kids who always told people I was going to be an astronaut, but I never moved on. A friend and I placed bets on which of us would be the first to make it to Mars. I think he has forgotten about it, but I plan to make him pay up when I get back.