Sarah Fargis got involved in undergraduate research by approaching her BIO114 lab instructor in her freshman year. “I thought Dr Bannigan was nice, so I asked her if she needed any research students, and she gladly accepted me,” says Sarah. “Then she told me about the projects she was working on, I chose the one I was most interested in, and then her interests became mine.”

Sarah became interested in doing research when she was walking around the biology building and noticed all the research labs. It seemed obvious that they must need help, so she looked through the faculty list on the biology website to see what kind of research was going on in the department.

Sarah’s research investigates the role of a motor protein during cell division. The same motor exists in most organisms, but it seems to work a bit differently, depending on whether it’s in a plant or an animal.

Sarah has been using the confocal microscope to make movies of live plant cells going through mitosis and watching what goes wrong when this crucial motor protein is defective. The plants express green fluorescent protein, which allows Sarah to see the inner workings of the dividing cell.

Sarah enjoys research because, she says, “it allows you to take the broad aspects you learn in your core classes and dive much deeper into them. For example, you learn more lab techniques, and how to write better research papers.”

Sarah doesn’t know yet what she’ll do when she graduates – either med school or grad school, but one way or another she will keep doing biology.

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