Have you ever wondered why some smells are irritating and others are pleasant, or how anesthetics even work? There are many other other things that we can ask about volatile compounds including how do they act as plant and fungal growth regulators, insect attractants or repellents, and if they can lead to diseases and disorders in humans. These are questions for which we don’t really have many answers. I’m working on teasing apart the complex molecular effects volatile compounds have on living organisms by studying changes in fungal expression after exposure to volatile chemicals using computational biology. I hope to further my research by complimenting and strengthening the computational results with lab experiments in fungi and other organisms. This would require more funding than I currently have. However, the work I’m doing will be fundamental in bettering our understanding of the biological effects of volatile compounds.
Along with my research studies, more funding would allow me to devote more time to outreach efforts to teach younger students about science and viewing higher education as a viable option. I have been working with for program that focuses on giving underrepresented students the tools and guidance they need to apply for and navigate through college. I will continue this work throughout my professional career as I believe that social and scientific progress will benefit greatly from diverse minds coming together to work on our problems.
All the best.