Erica Breyman ’20 starts work in the Ivanovic lab

Office of the Vice Provost for Research: Congratulations on your new position! What are you learning?

Erica Breyman: I started in the Ivanovic Lab 2 weeks ago, and now they’re just teaching me basic lab jobs and how to get involved with the projects they’re working on. They’re teaching me different assays and how to conduct them.

OVPR: You didn’t have any training before you started?

EB: They teach me everything. They’ll do the procedure and I’ll take notes when they’re doing it, and they’ll explain why they’re doing what they’re doing, how they do it, how it’s applied. I have a whole notebook of just research notes! I started in one notebook then I had to move to a bigger one!

OVPR: Why did you want to get involved?

EB: I like to learn in collaborative environments, and I like to learn not only material but also to apply it. I’m premed and likely will pursue pediatric oncology. If I go into that I’ll need to do cancer research. I want to see if it’s something I want to go into, something that I like. So far it’s something I really like! I can apply what I learn in class.

OVPR: What do you mean?

EB: Right now in my biology class, we learned about amplification and we learned about transcription, and reverse transcription and that’s exactly what I’m applying in my research position.

OVPR: How did you get started?

EB: You told me to set up an appointment with Meredith Monaghan in Academic Services, and we looked up some people and I emailed them, to see if they were looking for someone. Meredith just looked up some people and pointed me in a helpful direction. For instance, she said, they just got funding, they’re looking to fill a position, or this lab just got a new grant, so they’re looking to fill a position. You may want to try to email those people. So that’s what I did.

OVPR: What is next?

EB: I think it’s hopefully for the next three years. There’s a girl in the lab who started her junior year, and she’s doing her senior thesis now.

OVPR: What’s it like to work in a lab?

EB: It’s a very small lab, which I love, because I get to work hands on with the professor. I think you might not get that in a bigger lab, whereas Tijana Ivanovic always says hi to me and is a fantastic mentor. She’s great, you can ask her a lot of questions, and she prefers that you ask her a lot of questions. She says she wants to teach me that way. This is perfect!

OVPR: Do you have any advice to other undergrads looking for research positions?

EB: Don’t give up, just keep trying because you might not connect with any of the first ten, but it’ll be the 11th. I have friends asking me, because they’re looking for research positions, and I tell them that I’ve been through the same thing, just keep trying.