Arevik Ghazaryan, O'Connell Lab (Microbiology and Immunology)
Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from, what degree(s) do you have? What are your interests?
I was born and raised in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, and came to the U.S. when I was 18 to receive my undergraduate education at Utah State University. The volume of scientific research in the U.S. has impressed me the most, so I decided to continue my graduate PhD education in the United States after finishing my Bachelor degree in Biology.
Why did you choose the U for graduate school?
After finishing my undergraduate studies, I was drawn to several research projects here at the University of Utah so I chose to work as a technician after I graduated. I fully enjoyed my experience, made a lot of friends and collaborators so I decided to stay and pursue my own project in O’Connell lab.
Tell me about your lab. What do you study?
I study the role of miRNAs in Myeloid malignancies, specifically Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia have a very high mortality rate and they still need less toxic and more effective drugs. Therefore, I am working on understanding how miRNAs can change the disease pathology and try to find new ways of treating the patients.
Why did you choose to join your lab?
I liked the collaborative and friendly atmosphere in the lab. I also liked my mentor’s approaches and his friendly attitude towards his students. Above all, I was excited to study Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
What do you like most about living in Salt Lake City?
I like that it’s not super busy but you still have the city vibe. I also like the big selection of mountains you can go skiing on.
What do you like the least?
I don’t like that the Spring and Fall seasons are very short, it’s really pretty, but it only lasts a few weeks.
What do you like most about being a graduate student?
I like that I am working on a project that I am really passionate about, that I can do my own experiments and come up with my own ideas and test them. For example, I like how I can read the literature and come up with ideas of how to combine multiple drugs to target Leukemic cells and just try it in the lab, and if it succeeds it can be translated into the clinic and help patients. The idea of discovering something new that no one has done, makes being a graduate student very fun.
What advice would you give to someone applying and interviewing for graduate school?
A PhD requires a lot of commitment and includes a lot of failed experiments, so it will be hard to pursue it if you don’t truly enjoy it or believe in your success. I would advise students to identify labs that they are interested in and meet the professors during the interview weekend, ask all sort of questions and choose the area of research you are passionate about and want to make advancements in the field.