SRC: What was your research career like at UCLA? Any updates since receiving the Goldwater Scholarship?
AT: I have co-authored four published or submitted peer-reviewed articles (two as first author) and one article in the UCLA Undergraduate Science Journal, am named as a contributor on two UCLA Invention Reports, one of which is in the process of being filed as a U.S. Provisional Patent, and I have presented six posters at five undergraduate symposia and one professional international conference. For these accomplishments, I have been awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the UCLA Undergraduate Research Scholars Program fellowship, the UCLA Chemistry/Biochemistry Raymond and Dorothy Wilson fellowship, and was named a UCLA Amgen Scholar for summer 2019 and Harvard Stem Cell Institute Intern for summer 2018.
Outside the lab, I was also involved in research-based outreach clubs, volunteering with underprivileged elementary school kids, and was president of the club equestrian team.
My most significant research experience at UCLA by far was working in the Gelbart/Knobler lab, where I was given the independence to direct and shape my own projects that resulted in the first-author papers – they taught me how to become confident and scientifically curious, and nurtured me into becoming the scientist and person I am today.
SRC: What are your main goals as you look ahead to your MD/PhD program?
AT: My goals for the MD/PhD are to gain a wider clinical perspective through my medical training even as I pursue a PhD in biophysics, so I can contextualize my research in terms of current medical issues and better focus the projects I work on. I eventually want to be a PI leading a lab in translational science.
SRC: What advice would you give to students who are planning to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship?
AT: My advice for the Goldwater scholarship would be to identify strong letter-writers, hopefully people like your PI/research mentors who can speak positively toward your abilities as a young scientist, and to put a lot of time into the research statement – make sure you can easily articulate the goal of your project, and emphasize the role you specifically had in that project’s development and progress.