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From The Magic School Bus to Benchside

November 14, 2016

Dillion HustonBy Ibolya Rutkai and Tamara Escajadillo 

PharmTalk is delighted to be broadcasting the achievements of ASPET members who will become the next generation of great scientists. To launch the first interview of our Spotlighting Young Scientists series, we talked to Dillion Hutson, a senior undergraduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Sarah Lindsey at the Department of Pharmacology, Tulane University about his ASPET 2016 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).

What is your current research project and what did your recent ASPET 2016 SURF focus on? 

"Currently, I'm continuing the SURF project that I started this summer. I'm using digital PCR to assess RNA transcript copy numbers of estrogen receptors (GPER, ERα, and ERβ) and genes of interest to the cardiovascular system found in cultured rat aortic smooth muscle cells in response to drug treatment. In future studies, we hope to use this to compare transcript levels among male and female, young and aged animals to gain a cohesive picture of the natural changes in receptor prevalence."

Where do you find your scientific drive?  

"Is it cheesy to attribute my early fascination with science to Bill Nye and The Magic School Bus? I've always been curious about the way the world works; "why" was my favorite question growing up and science has provided me with the best means to try and scratch that itch. I'm motivated by the prospect of learning something new and ultimately the chance to contribute meaningfully to the larger scientific conversation. "

What are your short and long term goals for yourself? 

"In the short term, I aim to finish up my undergraduate degree and pursue a masters in the field of genetics, however, long term is a bit more nebulous at this point. I know I want to utilize my skills to conduct meaningful work that will help people, but whether that's by becoming a genetic counselor or finding a home in research remains to be seen. I'm excited to see what my future has in store; I'll get back to y'all on this one!"

What advice would you give to sophomore or junior students who would like to be involved in research? 

"The best advice I could give to students looking to get involved is to start talking to professors and upperclassmen; find out what sort of research is happening on your campus and send some emails to a couple of PIs. Don't worry about not being an expert or not having experience, you're a student and you likely won't, and that's ok! Researchers genuinely want to help interested students develop their skills and gain experience, and the best way to get involved is to put yourself out there, let them know you're interested and ready to learn."

Are you going to submit an abstract to the ASPET Annual Meeting at  Experimental Biology 2017? 

"Yes, I plan on submitting the preliminary data from my SURF project to EB2017 and hope to travel to Chicago this spring to attend my first conference!"

We thank Mr. Hutson for his participation in this interview, and we hope he'll visit some of the YSC activities we have planned for EB2017! 


Last updated: November 14, 2016 

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