On May 28, the Nebraska Institutional Development Award Program (IDeA) Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program welcomed 29 undergraduate students from across Nebraska as they embark on their summer research experience at Creighton University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and UNMC.
Below LeeAnna Lui, a bioinformatics major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, talks about her INBRE experience.
Tell me about yourself. Who are your heroes?
My name is LeeAnna Lui and I will be a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha this fall. I am majoring in bioinformatics and have minors in chemistry and computer science. Aside from a few extra-curriculars (Chi Omega, NE-Stem, Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Program, Mavericks Club for Bioinformatics), I spend my time in a molecular parasitology lab, studying toxoplasma and learning different laboratory skills.
As we all know, a hero is someone that you admire and look up to. It is a person who has faced their own challenges with pride and grace. While I don't know if this counts, my heroes would be my parents. They are both extremely hard working, supporting me and my dreams and sacrificing so much for us. They each have been through their own tribulations and came out of them stronger, becoming more independent and wiser. While they may not have changed the world, they molded me and taught me to be the person that I am. They are consistently there, in the successes and the failures. Knowing the challenges they have overcome, I am inspired to work hard and motivated to create my own success. My parents have and will always be my heroes.
What are your career goals?
As of now, I am a bit undecided about what path of science I would like to take. I have always been interested in medicine and its clinical side, being passionate for the patient care and interactions. However, when I entered research, I fell in love with the race for discovery and beauty of all that was unknown. Because of this, I am undecided on my career goals. I am looking into professional school, whether that be an MD, PhD, or an MD/PhD. In the meantime, however, I am hoping to emerge myself in the different fields, experiencing the ins and outs to ultimately figure out what I want to pursue.
How did you become interested in science?
Growing up, I was that nerdy, science kid who loved books and music. Even now, not much has changed. Ever since I could remember, I loved the complexity of science. I find it fascinating, yet beautifully complex, as interactions and properties drive our world. I was initially drawn in by science fair experiments, like a baking soda volcano or elephant toothpaste. As I grew, my knowledge did too, reaffirming just how unbelievable and elegant science is. I learned how cells function in a beautiful symphony to operate an entire body. In college, I joined a parasitology lab and saw how DNA can be modified by just a few enzymes. For me, I never became interested in science, but was always interested. I mean, when you take the slightest peek into how our world functions, it's hard not to be.
What do you hope the INBRE program will do for you?
Already, the INBRE program has opened many opportunities for me. I have been connected with so many ambitious, driven students that have a love for science from day one. It is this that drove me to INBRE, as I hoped to build my network, meeting people who have the same passions as me. In addition, I hope that INBRE will expose me to a different field of science, broadening my field and skills. Working in Dr. (Paul) Fey's lab over the summer, I get to work on Staphylococcus aureus and learn the skills specific to bacteriology. From this experience, I am excited to learn the stories and passions from professionals around me.
LeeAnna - What a beautiful tribute to Jude and Nan - they truly are wonderful parents and have raised you and your brothers well.