Researcher of the Month
Major: Physics; Minors: Biology, Chemistry
Honors College, Class of 2015, Recipient of 2015 Undergraduate Research award -SBU Sigma Xi chapter
Research Mentor: Dr. Subramanyam Swaminathan, BNL
Casey Vieni, a senior in the Honors College, will be graduating this December with a degree in Physics. Since August 2013, he has been doing crystallography & biophysics research in the research group of Dr. Swaminathan at Brookhaven National Laboratories. Casey presented a poster last spring on this research at the URECA symposium titled “Functional and Structural Characterization of Three Proteins Causing Pathogenicity””, work for which he was awarded the Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research award.
Early on, Casey recalls being certain that research was something he wanted to try during his time at Stony Brook: “I thought it would be my only chance to do it …And I fell in love with the research. When you’re doing research on something for a long time, and something works and it finally clicks, it feels so satisfying!”
In his junior year, Casey was nominated to Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society; and also received an Undergraduate Recognition award. While at SB, he also became a certified as an EMT at Stony Brook Medical Center; served as a Big Sibling in the Honors College mentoring program; participated in the English Pal Program; was captain and coordinator of intermural Volleyball; and was active in the BioElite club. Casey is currently applying to MD/PhD programs.
To view his profile in Happenings, click here>>.
Karen: What advice do you have for other students?
Casey: Get involved as early as possible. I do crystallography work. Basically, you’re working to get the structure of a protein. Once you get the structure, then you could tell at the atomic level the molecular interactions of protein-and get an idea of how the mechanism of the reaction happens, how the enzyme works, etc. And for crystallography work, just getting the structure can take a long time, so definitely the earlier you start, the better.
For me, it was also beneficial to commit to one lab and do something substantial and get a feel for the project over a long time, rather than jump around from one lab to another every semester or so. You get more time to develop an independent project. I would definitely recommend sticking with a really good lab once you’ve found it. Make a commitment.