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Katie Driest – Goldwater Scholar

Name: Katie Driest

Class Year: 2014

Hometown: Davidson, NC

Major(s): Biochemistry

Minors or Concentrations: Mathematic

Opportunity and Year: Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, 2013

Project Summary: My proposal was an extension of research I have worked on at Washington and Lee with Dr. Frederick LaRiviere studying ribosomal RNA (rRNA) degradation pathways in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. One mechanism by which defective rRNAs are degraded is translation dependent. However, it is unknown whether the associated mRNA is degraded as well. In my Goldwater proposal, I proposed to investigate this question using internal ribosome entry sites (IRESes), which allow for exclusive pairing of defective rRNAs with reporter mRNAs.

How did W&L prepare you for this opportunity? My research experiences at Washington and Lee have been insightful in my decision to pursue a research career and also gave me the background that I needed to apply for this grant. In addition, I have had many incredible mentors who have supported me throughout my undergraduate education and while I was applying to this grant.

Why did you apply for this opportunity? I thought that this grant would be a great opportunity to practice my grant writing and experience the process of turning an intriguing question into a grant proposal.

Post-graduation Plans: I will be taking a gap year following graduation to work in a research lab and narrow down my research interests. Following that, I will be applying to graduate school.

How will this opportunity help you achieve your goals? The process of applying to the Goldwater was a valuable opportunity to practice grant writing, which is essential throughout graduate school and after.

Extracurricular Involvement:

At Washington and Lee, I’m involved in Cross Country and Track and Field. I’m also involved in tutoring at the Math Center and as a Chemistry peer tutor.

Research Experience:

I was an HHMI Fellow for two summers at Washington and Lee, where I conducted RNA biochemistry research with Dr. LaRiviere. This past summer I participated in a Dana’s Angels Research Trust internship at UT Southwestern in the Brown-Goldstein Lab, where I researched cholesterol transport. This year, I’m working on my Honor Thesis in Biochemistry with Dr. LaRiviere, continuing research I have done with him on nonfunctional rRNA decay.

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