In addition to the USC village, the Michelson Center for Convergent Biosciences opened my freshman year! Again, the timing for me to attend USC could not have been better. The purpose of the Michelson Center is to provide a space for researchers of different specialties to come together and collaborate on tackling the most pressing health challenges of our era. Faculty from both Viterbi and Dornsife have labs in the building. Because I am passionate about the advancement of medicine, the Michelson Center was the place I wanted to be!
As a brief tangent, let me explain the research that I am a part of. Early in the year, I joined Professor Cristina Zavaleta’s lab. Her research work focuses on the development of nanoparticles that can be injected into patients and then imaged to highlight the margins of a cancerous tumor. This imaging technique can greatly assist oncologic surgeons when they are removing the tumor. Professor Zavaleta has invited me to work in her lab over the summer to learn how to create the nanoparticles and grow cancerous cells. I was excited that, as a freshman, I would contribute to a project that could potentially improve healthcare for so many patients!
Anyway, back to the Michelson Center. Professor Zavaleta’s lab was the first to move into the building! The first time I saw the new lab on the third floor, I was completely taken aback. There are different rooms for animal testing, cell culture, and state-of-the-art microscopes. Right outside the lab, there is ample desk space for students to do work on with a backdrop of a beautiful view of campus. Then, when you go further outside the lab, there is a gigantic kitchen surrounded by many tables. You may be wondering, a kitchen in a research building? Remember, the whole point of the Michelson Center is to facilitate conversation and exchange of viewpoints between different USC faculty. Often times, people can generate extraordinary ideas while preparing and eating a meal!
Professor Zavaleta and I always talk about how grateful we are to have these amazing facilities in the Michelson Center. However, I am particularly grateful to Professor Zavaleta for not only providing me with the opportunities I have always dreamed about when coming to college but also being a mentor to me. She has encouraged me to keep my options open and not settle on a career just yet.
Thank you Professor Z and the Michelson Center!