MeiLu McDermott, PhD Student
Office: RRI 403K
Single-cell RNA sequencing allows us to characterize many individual cells at once, so small unique subpopulations of cells can be found within a larger sample. In my research, I use this technique to investigate cancer, where a high mutation rate can cause considerable heterogeneity. Specifically, I focus on studying the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cancer cells. This biological process enables cancer cells to transform and become mobile, with the ability to migrate through the body and create cancer metastases.
How I Got Into Science
My real interest in science began in high school chemistry class, where I was lab partners with my best friend, sharing late night study sessions and failed synthesis yields. Looking back, I was drawn not only to the scientific study itself – the work of patiently combing through data to find patterns and results – but the feeling of collaboration with someone who was also passionate about their work.
As an undergraduate, I majored in chemistry & astronomy along with taking CS courses. I did research in astronomy, using spectral datasets to model and characterize planetary nebula in the Andromeda Galaxy. I transitioned fields after college, joining a biological research lab where I built a pipeline to analyze high-throughput phosphoproteomics data on leukemia cells and CAR T-cells.
Favorite activity outside of work: Gaming, and caring for my (ever-growing) collection of houseplants
Favorite book: Ancillary Justice
What undergraduate major I’d pick outside of STEM: Creative writing