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CIE Researcher of Distinction, December 2013

Rocio Siu NgRN

Each month, the Center for Inclusive Education showcases the outstanding research being conducted by one of our talented scholars in our Research Cafe series. In addition, we recognize this scholar as a Researcher of Distinction and share the details of their journey to becoming an accomplished scholar. This month's Researcher of Distinction is Rocio Siu Ng, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolution. Rocio presented her talk, "Evolution of pigmentation traits in natural populations of the fruit fly species Drosophila melanogaster" on Wednesday, December 4, 2013. 

Rocio's Path Into Research

Rocio was born in New York City, where she attended the Bronx High School of Science. She found her high school experience to be quite enjoyable because she was surrounded by a group of intelligent and diverse students.  She felt challenged by her classes, made amazing friends, and got heavily involved in club activities. While she was in high school, she completed a research project for the Intel Science Talent Search and worked in a research lab for several months.  She was also an officer for the Conservation Club and was inducted into the ARISTA National Honor Society. She was also involved with the yearly school play. One year she designed the poster and the next she designed and help paint the backdrop. 

After high school, Rocio majored in Biology at New York University, where she was in the Presidential Scholars program, completed an honors thesis, won an undergraduate research grant, and was on the Dean’s List. Rocio became interested in research when she learned that not everything had been discovered. She found her early undergraduate research experiences discouraging since she did not find her first research project very compelling. However, once she met and started working with David Fitch, she had a great time, became immersed in her project, and was able to present a poster and submit a thesis.  

In her spare time, Rocio likes to illustrate, do crafts and DIY projects, travel, play guitar, and play rugby.  Her newest hobby is computer programming.

Rocio's Current Research

Describe the work you will be presenting for your Research Café.

I will be presenting on work that was completed for my first data chapter.   Some of the results will be on a genetic analysis of a single population of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster).  I have quantified diversity in pigmentation traits in this population and have uncovered some genetic changes that may be contributing to variation in these traits.  In addition, I have demonstrated that there are geographic patterns in pigmentation among populations in Eastern United States.  These results suggest that pigmentation may contribute to adaptation to the environment and be subject to natural selection.

Are there any other projects that you are currently working on?

I am trying to move forward with a sequencing and gene expression project that will make up the rest of my dissertation. 

What was the deciding factor for you to come to Stony Brook for your graduate studies?

The department was very warm and friendly and the students seemed legitimately happy there.  Additionally, my advisor John had a great lab, really bright students, and interesting research. 

What are your future goals?

I would like to do some postdoctoral work and expand my knowledge in genomics techniques.  After that, I am not sure but would like to keep science and teaching a part of my career.

What do you enjoy most about research?

I enjoy the opportunity it provides to mentor students and encourage them to appreciate science and become more creative and independent.