“Whenever any member in the family fell ill, my grandma, who hails from farmers from a small village in Haryana, India, always had a home remedy at her fingertips; be it a mild cold, headache, or upset stomach, her remedies never failed to work wonders,” says New York Tech biology major Angel Singh.
Curious to discover the connections between the natural ingredients in those home remedies and their uses in the healthcare industry, Singh owes her passion for biology and scientific research to her grandmother. Her father is an orthopedic surgeon and other family members are doctors, so biology-related influences are always present in Singh’s life, ultimately solidifying her choice to pursue a future in the discipline.
Now in her third year as a student on the New York City campus, Singh is working on research with Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences Dong Zhang, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Biological and Chemical Sciences Leonidas Salichos, Ph.D., to determine genomic regions that impact tumor progression and immunotherapy treatments. But this is not the first cancer-related research that Singh has participated in. Hoping to advance the medical technology available to treat women in developing and underdeveloped regions of the world, she also participated in cervical cancer research under the supervision of Professor of Biological and Chemical Sciences Niharika Nath, Ph.D., in spring 2022.
Singh partnered with classmates Mary Margarette Sanchez and Dono Shodieva on a research study that aimed to automate the detection of cervical cancer using methods that analyzed Pap smear images and classified them into categories of severity regarding abnormal cell presence. The group developed a deep learning neural network algorithm to distinguish between the categories. Their research found they could accurately analyze Pap smear images, giving insight into the potential for image analysis of the detection of pre-cancerous cells.
“I see myself continuing cervical cancer research as a career post-graduation. The potential this research has brought forward is something I wish to pursue later in life,” says Singh. “I also see myself transitioning into research involving diseases more prevalent in children.”
After her expected graduation in 2024, Singh plans to attend medical school to fulfill her aspiration of becoming a pediatric surgeon and serving and caring for children.
“Providing life-changing healthcare to children and seeing them grow into healthy adults sounds challenging, yet heartwarming,” she says. “I have always wanted to be involved with children and took up as many volunteering opportunities as possible in pediatric-related areas. I think combining the joy of being surrounded by children and my passion for science is a wonderful career opportunity.”
Until then, Singh will continue to do what she enjoys most—getting hands-on in the lab. As a visual learner, she cites her time in the laboratory as her favorite part of the biology degree program; translating classroom-learned concepts into the lab and zeroing in on the smallest details aid Singh in strengthening her intellectual curiosity.
“Be on the lookout for opportunities that interest you, and do not hesitate to get involved as soon as possible,” Singh advises students who wish to pursue a path in biology. “Think about what brings you joy, what puts a smile on your face, and work toward building a career around that.”