Research experience as an undergrad in Trail lab - Claudia Petrucco

Research in Trail lab a rewarding experience: Throughout my time at Michigan State, I spent three years as an undergraduate research assistant in Frances Trail’s fungal biology laboratory. Although I started with basic lab and greenhouse maintenance tasks, most of my time in the Trail lab was spent working on an evolutionary spore germination project. In this project, I conducted gene knock-outs in two fungal species and phenotyped resulting in knock-out mutants for traits relating to pathogenesis. I was able to present my results at multiple poster sessions, and my contribution to the project will lead to co-authorship in a publication.

As an independent researcher:  My time spent in the lab played an important role in my ability to recognize and achieve my goals. I was given the independence required for me to strengthen trouble-shooting skills. Working through inconclusive results and failed experiments have demonstrated to me the importance of patience and resilience while conducting research. The most important being confident in myself as a scientist and as a student.

Skills developed: I have accumulated a variety of microbiology and molecular genetics laboratory techniques. Project management, time management, and organizational skills were honed in the lab to balance my time and energy between the multiple components of my project in lab and academics. At the same time, I was also teaching as an undergraduate learning assistant. The lessons learned and skills obtained were critical in my academics as well. I was able to receive the MSU Board of Trustees Award for graduating with the highest possible grade point average. I am glad that the years of dedication and working hard have paid off, and I am proud of my accomplishments at Michigan State University. However, I do not think these achievements would have been possible if not for the opportunities granted to me by the Trail lab and the reward I found in conducting research.

Future plans: My experience of working in the lab have prepared me for graduate school and a future career in research. I have got admittance to Duke University’s molecular genetics and microbiology PhD program. I am excited to start Grad School.