I am originally from Niger Republic, West Africa. I came to Western New York in September of 2003 and attended Sweet Home High School in Amherst. After graduating in 2005, I came to Niagara to begin premedicine studies and am currently a senior majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and French. I chose medicine because I really want to make a difference in any way I can. I have seen many of my family members suffer from illnesses that threatened their lives, and both my grandmother and my uncle recently passed away due to health complications and hepatitis.
One of Niagara University's powerful areas is undergraduate research, and it's one of the reasons I chose to attend. I was able to get involved with cancer research in the spring of 2008, working with Dr. Robert Greene, chair and professor of biology, as my research adviser. I chose to work with cancer cells because one of my aunts was diagnosed with uterine cancer. It was detected early and there was no metastasis, so she has a good chance of survival.
I started my research experience with cell culture, learning how to grow Hela cervical and MCF-7 breast cancer cells without contaminating the cultures. Once I became comfortable with the cell-culturing methods, I started to conduct experiments and learned various laboratory techniques such as the DNA fragmentation assay, gel electrophoresis, fluorescence microscopy, chambers cultures, and many more. I soon performed well at all those procedures and reached a whole new level in my laboratory expertise. Now, I teach other students what I learned and am currently supervising three undergraduates in the laboratory, helping them with their projects.
Like other researchers, I experienced some disappointment with my work. Albert Einstein once said, "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" On some days, experiments run as expected; on other days, they do not. That is the true nature of research, where frustration is always around the edges of success.
My work involves investigating whether staurosporine and photodynamic compounds will induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the Hela and MCF-7 cancer cells and thus alter the morphological characteristics of these cells. Once I succeeded in testing my hypotheses, I was asked to attend a science conference. Undergraduate researchers at Niagara have the remarkable opportunity to attend regional and national science conferences. I was fortunate to go to the Eastern Colleges Science Conference at Wagner College in April 2009, where I made a poster presentation of the Morphological Comparison of Hela Cervical and MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells through Apoptosis Induced by Staurosporine and Photodynamic Drugs. I received an Award of Excellence for Outstanding Poster Presentation in Morphology and Histology for my very first presentation, which encouraged me to dive into more research. I decided to do an honors thesis, to be defended in May of 2010. I am currently working on my thesis and on my project for the 2010 ECSC conference in April.
I learned a great deal while at Niagara University, and it has been an extremely pleasant and fulfilling journey. The help here is tremendous -- Dr. Greene offered me a lot of support and motivation with my studies and research¬¬¬¬-- and resources are available for those who really want to be engaged in serious, career-directed research.
My research background helped me to be a competitive candidate for a Ph.D. program in molecular biology at Lehigh University and in cancer biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After I obtain my Ph.D. in cancer biology or molecular biology, I intend to dive into more cancer research, though academia might be another option, because educating about cancer is as important as developing a cure.