Going To Penn State University? Consider Medical Research

“My name is Elyse Munoz. I’m going into my fourth year at the genetics
program here at Penn State. I focus on the role of iron A binding proteins
and the transmission of the parasite between mosquitoes, its vector and mammals, its host. When I started out at Arizona State, my first
year of college, I was a political science major and my classes were incredibly boring. And one of my friends like hey, take anatomy
with me. It’ll be fun. And I was like okay. I like anatomy. Sounds cool. So I took it and he actually dropped the class
and I stayed with it and as soon as the semester ended, I changed my major to biology. And I said mom, I’m going to be a scientist. And she goes are you okay? So, but that was really the defining moment
when I got to do big science and I could actually see the application of my work and get to
play with these really huge, awesome machines. It’s not just sitting there and actually doing
the experiments. But there’s a lot of thought that goes into
it and designing and making sure that we’re answering the correct questions. What are the big questions we’d like to answer? What are the big concerns and then we talk
about experiments that we can design to address those questions. And then it gets into the nitty gritty. How much hydrochloric acid are you going to
add and how much vinegar do you need, right? We have eight different professors at Penn
State alone that work on every aspect of malaria, whether it’s the mosquito side or its the
sickness and the humans and mammals and having that center here again allows for that same
interdisciplinary action. Working on a single cause, malaria, from many
different aspects and many different perspectives. So I was awarded the Huck graduate enrichment
fund award last year which is $5,000 for grad student to work on whatever they want. So, in addition to giving us all these opportunities
of here, meet with everyone, discuss ideas. Discuss science. Additionally they’re giving us this opportunity
to pursue our own intellectual ideas. And try to make that impact that way. So malaria is an incredibly worthwhile pursuit
because it affects millions of people every year. Just last year approximately 627,000 people
died from malaria and a majority of those deaths are children under five. And three to four billion people are at risk
for contracting malaria every year. And we do have some drugs that are effective
but the parasites are rapidly becoming antibiotic resistant. And we still don’t have a vaccine. So really this is what we’re trying to do. This is our goal, is to hopefully eradicate
malaria and save all of these people. So science really makes the world go around. There’s no question. And what’s really important for the future
generations and other young scientists such as myself is to really, really keep that in
mind that what we’re doing has a much greater impact than just us getting our PhDs. It’s really about affecting change. It’s about reaching out into the communities
that need us into the countries that need us and being able to solve worldwide issues. Whether that’s poverty, whether that’s feeding
people, whether that’s disease. And that is why it’s so important to make
sure that the next crop of scientists that are coming in are excited and passionate about
there work because obviously, it’s hard. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort but in the end knowing
that what you’re doing is actually going to make a big difference helps quite a bit. When I think about life sciences, I think
about understanding the world around us. Understanding how we work. Understanding why energy is used at the way
that it is. Understanding why insects buzz around flowers. Very simple things that you maybe don’t think
about but are an integral part of your everyday life. So the life sciences is really you and me. So what I would absolutely love to say to
you right now is we found a cure for malaria. Ultimately that’s what I’d like to be able
to say. Malaria is cured.”

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