Summer research in NYC

East River view from Rockefeller University’s campus

Hi! My name is Sara Omer, and I am a rising senior majoring in Biochemistry! I am here to tell you a little about my research internship at The Rockefeller University this summer! Regarding research, I tend to gravitate towards genetics as an interest. I’ve always been interested in studying genetics but only found out through my experiences in labs and classes what that actually looked like. If I can sum it up, I specifically like working within a pathway and manipulating genes to observe their roles and importance. In all honesty, I have only discovered this interest recently and I’m very excited to keep diving into genetics.

During my second year at Amherst, I began working in Professor Jeeyon Jeong’s lab, where we study iron homeostasis in Arabidopsis thaliana. In the following years, I participated in Amherst’s SURF program and did an independent study in the fall of my junior year in the lab. This experience made it clear that research was a career I could see myself in. It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea as I did not know where a research career would take me, but through the ups and downs trying to figure that out, there was a point I knew that it was something I wanted to do. I have learned so much being part of the lab and would highly recommend anyone to join a lab at Amherst if you think you may enjoy doing research! I look forward to writing my senior thesis this year with Professor Jeong.

I am spending this summer at The Rockefeller University in the Chemers Neustein Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF). The program’s goal is to provide “a unique opportunity for undergraduates to conduct laboratory research” at the graduate-school level. With a cohort of 25 other undergraduates, the program has thus far been an amazing experience. I applied to this program because I wanted to determine what my scientific path may look like after graduation and question whether graduate school is the next step for me. 

Rockefeller University is a biomedical research institute located in Manhattan, New York. The university emphasizes the importance of studying science at a basic level in order to understand the bigger picture. At Rockefeller, I work under Dr. Agata Smogorzewska in the Laboratory of Genome Maintenance. My project involves studying how a replication fork can repair the site of DNA damage induced when under stress during DNA synthesis. Its inability to reset is the cause of many diseases that can eventually develop into cancer. Having never done cancer research, it was a completely new experience. You can read more about Dr. Smogorzewska’s research here. This project has introduced me to entirely new topics and lab techniques, such as proximity ligation assays and immunofluorescence, which I have never had a chance to interact with! I’m currently six weeks into the program and have found a fantastic amount of passion and excitement around conducting scientific research. The program has surrounded me with exceptional mentors ranging from current graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, professors, etc. So far, it has allowed me to see the different paths that are possible after I am finished with my undergraduate studies. While it has been overwhelming, it has also been such a refreshing experience. Outside of science, I feel incredibly grateful to spend my summer in the city and immerse myself entirely in the environment. It has been a joy to be here thus far. I hope I was able to share a little about myself and my excitement for what is to come! Feel free to contact me with any questions (especially about applying to the SURF program or working in an Amherst lab! I would love to talk about my experience): Next thing to tackle this summer: graduate school applications!