Recently, ENIGMA Principal Investigator Romy Chakraborty hosted college student Mariam Alsaid; an intern who participated in the The Transfer-to-Excellence Research Experiences for Undergraduates (TTE REU)program. She worked with ENIGMA postdocs Mon Oo Yee, and Kristine Cabugao. Mariam shared her experience with the program in the following interview, and you can also watch her final presentation. TTE REU seeks to inspire California community college students through research at UC Berkeley so that they will ultimately transfer and complete their Bachelor’s degree in science and engineering. Miriam joins UCB in the upcoming fall semester.
How would you summarize your research results?
A downstream analysis of the 16S rRNA sequences from six soil samples was conducted in QIIME2 (Quantitative Insights Into Microbiology). Using the relative abundance plot that was generated, we were able to compare microbial community compositions across various enrichment conditions and soil core depths. It was found that samples from the same inoculum source exhibited similar microbial community populations but their compositions varied depending on the substrates they were enriched in and the initial microbial composition of the soil core. Knowing that substrate and soil depth have a significant impact on the resulting microbial composition may help to enhance our understanding of the carbon cycle and achieve more accurate quantitative estimates of global carbon emission versus sequestration.
Could you describe the internship or mentorship experience?
This internship is meant to give underrepresented community college students the opportunity to spend their summers doing research in collaboration with great scientists at UC Berkeley. Over the course of 9 weeks, we were responsible for writing a research paper, constructing a poster, and presenting our findings at a research symposium by the end of the program.
How did you hear about the opportunity?
I learned about this internship opportunity through the program coordinator, Nicole McIntyre, who gave a presentation on the program at my community college (Sacramento City College).
What inspired you to submit an application?
I have been interested in pursuing a career in research for quite some time now and thought that this internship would be a great introduction into the field. I was also inspired by research projects conducted by past TTE interns, especially the ones working with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
What did the process entail? (links and anything that might help future ENIGMA applicants)
2 letters of recommendation, 3 essay questions. More about the TTE REU.
What did you get out of the internship?
This internship taught me many of the skills necessary to succeed in research. Specifically, this internship helped me to become proficient in coding, analyzing microbial sequences, and science communication.