Research Scientist in Training
When Olivia Albert chose to attend NYIT to study biotechnology, she knew she would get the research experience she desired. What surprised her was the number of opportunities available. “NYIT did not let me down!” says Albert. “I never imagined I would be lucky enough to have this much research experience [before applying to] graduate school.”
Albert sat down with The Box to talk about her research and the life-changing experience that influenced her career path.
What made you choose biotechnology?
I got my associates degree in liberal arts because I couldn’t decide between a degree in journalism or some sort of degree in science. During my sophomore year in college, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and immediately knew that journalism could help me cope with the things I was going through. At the same time, I knew biotechnology was something I could utilize in order to try and help other people who were going through similar situations.
What excites me most about biotechnology are the opportunities! Technology is changing every day, which leads to so many possibilities for the future of science. Just from my classes, I find myself constantly in awe of today’s incredible technology and how it is being used by scientists and doctors. I can’t wait to be an active member in the field and really make a difference.
Why did you choose NYIT?
It was one of the few local schools that offered biotechnology, [plus] I always wanted to live in New York City. I ended up transferring to the Long Island campus in order to do research.
Can you describe a project or challenge you encountered recently that was interesting?
Last summer, I was granted a summer research position at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. I performed maintenance on various types of cell lines, numerous transfections, cell pairings, and confocal laser scanning microscopy. This opportunity opened my eyes to what life as a researcher would be; I couldn’t be more excited.
What activities are you currently involved in at NYIT?
I’m a member of the Golden Key International Society and National Society of Leadership and Success. I’m also lucky enough to have worked in the labs of two faculty members. In my junior year, I worked with Assistant Professor Randy Stout, Ph.D., in NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine. I analyzed images of z-stacks of neuro 2A cells that showed endocytosis between oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. The goal of this project was to learn more about the directionality of endocytosis [a process in which substances are brought into the cell] and how mutations in specific regions of the amino acid sequence could affect endocytosis.
I also worked with Assistant Professor Bryan Gibb, Ph.D., in NYIT College of Arts and Sciences. In Dr. Gibb’s lab my project focused on the ever-growing resistance to bacteria and what we might do in order to try and combat it. I used kitchen sponges in order to isolate bacteria and, in turn, its corresponding bacteriophage [a virus that naturally infects bacteria] in order to try and understand their relationship and the actual strength bacteriophages have in combating these kinds of illnesses.
What’s next for you?
I plan on graduating from NYIT in May of 2019 and I’m working on applications for Ph.D. programs. NYIT played a pivotal role in allowing me to realize what my goals were for my future. If it weren’t for the research opportunities offered by NYIT, I wouldn’t know what life would be like as a Ph.D. candidate or as a researcher. I always loved science and NYIT showed me exactly what I could do, and just how successful I could be.
What is one thing about you people might be surprised to find out?
I’ve been to 65 concerts and plan to go to more! I’ve always found music to be a form of therapy for me. No matter what was happening in my life, there was a song or a lyric that helped me through.
This interview has been edited and condensed.