U Student Shines in Science Research

As a little girl, Elisabeth Zachary wanted to grow up to be a germ expert, now she’s living her childhood dreams.

Zachary, a junior in biology, is conducting research at the U to further this goal.

“I’m doing it for the sake of the experience and they’re a lot of incentives to do research,” she said.

One of the main factors Zachary considered when she applied to the U was the opportunity undergraduate students have to help with science projects in the lab. She said she also found research currently being conducted that she wanted to take part in.

For about a year, Zachary worked with U professor Wayne Potts and focused on how viruses adapt to genetic diversity.

Potts has studied host pathogen viruses for the past 28 years. During that time, his research has led to different outcomes and, for him, it’s an ongoing process of discovery.

“It’s great to discover unknown things” Potts said.

He also said research for them isn’t always easy. Sometimes when they’re trying to do research on one topic, they end up with something completely different.

“It’s important to think about those problems and how to solve them because sometimes you fail,” Potts said.

Professors like Potts are struggling to find students because of a lack of funding. He said they’re able to hire some students through the Biology Undergraduate Research Program and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, but that’s not always enough.

“Many other programs were cut, making it difficult to find those students we are wanting to conduct research,” he said.

Zachary said she hopes they continue the programs because of the experience she’s gained. She said because of her lab expertise, she will be able to go to graduate school and continue with her dream of learning about viruses.

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