CIE Researcher of Distinction, February 2018
Each month, the Center for Inclusive Education showcases the outstanding research being conducted by one of our talented scholars in our Research Café series. In addition, we recognize this scholar as a Researcher of Distinction and share the details of his/her journey to becoming an accomplished scholar. This month's Researcher of Distinction is Amber Bonds, PhD candidate in the Department of Pharmacological Sciences. Amber presented her work, ‘Understanding the Role of Cholesterol Utilization in Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ on Thursday, February 15, 2018.
AMBER'S PATH INTO RESEARCH
Amber Bonds is a New York native, growing up in Westchester County. She attended the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT; earning bachelors degrees in Forensic Science and Biochemistry. While in college, Amber was active in several on-campus organizations and a mentor in the Women of Power Network. She conducted research as REU summer student at the University of Oregon. Under the mentorship of Dr. Diane Hawley, Amber investigated the interactions between RNA Polymerase II and transcription factors in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Her research interests include pathogen-host interactions and the development of new therapeutics for treating infectious diseases. Amber’s dissertation research investigates the role of cholesterol utilization in Mycobacterium tuberculosis with the aim to identify new therapeutic targets. She is a Turner Fellow in the Center for Inclusive Education. Apart from research, Amber is an avid sports fan and enjoys yoga, Zumba and traveling (with plans to visit all seven continents).
AMBER's Current Research
Describe the work you presented for your Research Café.
Tuberculosis is a major world health problem, recently becoming the leading cause of death due to an infectious agent. The global effort to eradicate this disease has been dampened by increases in multi-drug resistant strains. Thus, the need for new therapeutics is imperative. During infection, cholesterol is a major nutrient and influences bacterial survival and pathogenicity. My research aims to characterize enzymes within the cholesterol catabolic pathway and investigate how the bacteria regulates its metabolism. Acquiring a better understanding of how M. tuberculosis utilizes cholesterol will help identify biological targets vulnerable to therapeutic intervention.
How did you become interested in research?
I first became interested in research when I took a Molecular Biology course. My professor was adamant about his students knowing the history of science and the major contributions individuals made to the field. He would go into detail about the experiments conducted and the significance of these scientific findings. It inspired me to want to explore the unknown and make contributions to society.
What was the deciding factor for you to come to Stony Brook for your graduate studies?
Stony Brook has a reputation for developing successful scientists and I knew that I would be provided with the necessary resources to become a successful independent scientist. I initially wanted to pursue career in industry and Stony Brook has a strong relationship with local biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Several alumni of the Pharmacology department have gone on to have fruitful careers in various sections of biotech/pharmaceutical companies. However, one of the most important reasons for picking Stony Brook was the CIE. During my interview, I was given the opportunity to meet with former director, Dr. Maung-Gaona. During our conversation, she explained to me the mission of the Center and the close-knit relationship between the staff and the students. I didn’t experience this sense of support and the overall advocacy (specifically for underrepresented minorities) anywhere else.
Are there any other projects, beyond your Research Café work, that you are currently working on?
I am currently writing a short review on the current state of my research field and the significance of targeting cholesterol metabolism in M. tuberculosis as a new framework for drug development.
What are your future goals?
I am still deciding whether I would like to continue research in the academic or industrial setting. I do plan on seeking a post-doctoral position and will be looking for such opportunities in both industry and academia.
What do you enjoy most about research?
It’s gratifying to know that my work will contribute to a greater understanding of the unknown and have a potential impact on society.