This past month, one of our cabinet members, Benjamin Kerner, had the opportunity to sit down with Henry Ng, a prominent student researcher here at Stony Brook.
B: Alright so first question, what is your name, major, and department?
H: I’m Henry Ng, and I’m a Biology major, specializing in developmental genetics. I am also a chemistry minor, because chemistry is great. I love it. My lab is in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.
B: Next question, which builds off of that is… what is the name of your research lab and what faculty is it under?
H: I am in the Dean Lab, which is named after my P. I. Neta Dean.
B: All right sounds good. So how did you get into research and what inspired you to do so?
H: Well I knew my P. I. because I was taking her class, and I looked into her research and I kinda just wanted to join a research lab because that is what people do. And I ended up doing just that!
B: Alright so how long have you been in your lab now?
H: It’s been more than two and a half years now.
B: So you’re a senior?
H: I’m a senior, yup! I joined the lab in sophomore year, first semester.
B: Oh cool, so do you have any posters or publications?
H: I had a poster presentation last year in URECA and also in the department retreat. I currently have a publication kinda in the review process; so the manuscript was submitted and we got the reviews back and we’re trying to push it out before I graduate. It will be a first author publication, it’s just me and my P. I.
B: That’s awesome!
H: Yup, it’s been… it’s been a lot of work.
B: So what does your lab study?
H: So my lab studies Candida albicans, which is a dangerous fungal pathogen. Patients who are immuno-compromised will get infections by this type of pathogen easily because their immune systems are weakened; some patients who may contract this pathogen include HIV patients, elderly patients, or cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapies. So that’s what my lab studies and we’re trying to knock out genes participating in the ER and Golgi to see the defects in cell walls and in glycosylation. And how it impacts pathogenesis and macrophage recognition… is that too detailed?
B: Not at all, I mean it’s a science publication so you can go a little in depth.
H: Well that’s what my lab studies. But I work on something different. So what I work on is CRISPR/Cas, which is like a genome editing tool. The reason we study Candida albicans is because it’s very difficult to genetically manipulate, and CRISPR/Cas can solve some of those problems. And it’s very efficient and flexible, so that’s why we’re using it. The significance of my research is that what I did would accelerate other researcher’s studies in Candida albicans and would eventually help in developing anti-fungal treatments.
B: That’s incredible. Sounds truly incredible. So what is your favorite part of doing research?
H: My favorite part of doing research would be when things finally work. After a long time of troubleshooting and it finally works.
B: So what’s your favorite thing about working in your specific department or lab?
H: Our lab is a unique type of lab. I really like all of my lab mates, so when we’re not doing science we are doing shenanigans. We’re just like, playing music and singing along and our entire lab is kind of musical. We all sing in some way. So that’s what I like about my lab. Not science-wise.
B: Gotcha. So will research fit into your eventual career?
H: Oh yes. I’m applying to get my PhD in Biology and hopefully will get into academia or just industry. But who knows what’s going to happen, but yes research experience is required in our field of study.
B: So do you have any advice to other undergraduates looking to go into research or looking to get more out of their current research experience?
H: For the ones who haven’t started, I would say start early and put time in there. So there are many undergraduates who did not really spend time in the lab. Especially the pre-med students. But I’ll say put your heart into there and you’ll get results one day. Don’t get discouraged by failed experiments, it happens to everyone.
B: Yeah absolutely. Any advice for people who maybe are looking to get more out of their current research?
H: I’ll say read more because that’s what I don’t do enough. I would say read more to find out what you are actually interested in. Sometimes at the lab, your current specific project might not be as enthusiastic to you as it is to others. So I’ll say read more and find out what you are actually interested in so for the long term when you get into research, I would say that helps you finding your own place.