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Swati Gupta - Junior, Biology


Tell me a little about yourself...

I’m majoring in Biology and am planning to graduate May 2019. I have been working in this laboratory since last may, but have only been involved in research last summer and this current summer. In general, I have been performing research since 11 th grade and plan to continue to do so for years to come.

How did you choose which research project to work on? How did you get involved with this research?

Thanks to the WISE program, I was informed that there was a position open in Dr. Krug’s virology laboratory and I excitedly took the opportunity and joined the lab.I didn’t get to choose which specific research project to work on in Dr. Krug’s laboratory, but I chose to join a virology lab because I was intrigued by the idea of viruses after a few biology classes I took.

Do you have any advice for other undergraduate women in WISE with regard to pursuing research or succeeding as a researcher?

Every opportunity is a learning experience. Whether or not it ends up being something you pursue in the future or something that you end up being particularly interested in, you will always walk away from it having learned something new. Simply for the reason of expanding your knowledge and experience, every opportunity coming your way should be taken.

In what ways has being a part of the WISE program helped you succeed in your undergraduate program/internships/jobs ?

Going to college after high school was a lot less of an intimidating transition thanks to WISE. I knew when I began my freshman year in Stony Brook that I already had a group of peers, friends, and mentors to rely on that shared common interests with me. Through WISE, we each were assigned a mentor and a group of peers that were in the same major as us and we met with them weekly; this gave me something to look forward to and I learned a lot from my time there. I’m glad to say I walked away from the experience with amazing friends and a good grasp of how to stay organized and focused thanks to my mentor’s advice. WISE has helped me in many other ways as well. Having Doreen Aveni and Carrie Ann Miller always available whenever I was in need of guidance, being told about every possible internship/research opportunity available, having early enrollment dates (making scheduling a breeze), and taking WISE classes like ITS 101 (Intro to Stony), WSE 187 (Women in the laboratory), and WSE 242 (Society and Gender) has made my entire experience in Stony Brook very educational, enjoyable, and proactive.

Do you have a favorite research moment?

The moment when what you have been experimenting with finally works, all the failed trials and months of work become worth it.

What do you want to do after you graduate?

After I graduate, I plan on attending medical school. I’ve always wanted to become a surgeon and am still hoping to make that a possibility since the chance to save a life would be simply amazing and beyond rewarding.

Project Description:

The goal of our laboratory is to establish a CRISPR- Cas9 system (genome editing system) that will target murine gammaherpes virus 68 (MHV68) viral genes and silence them. To accomplish this, we have designed Guide RNAs (gRNAs) that will lead Cas9 to cut at specific sites in the viral genome. These breaks in the DNA are usually repaired imperfectly, and result in insertion or deletion mutations. This would in turn cause the virus to stop working the way it should and damage some part of its replication process. My part in this project is to determine if Cas9 accurately cut the DNA sites of interest. I test this by amplifying the section of viral DNA that is targeted by the guide RNA and then I use SURVEYOR nuclease to locate the insertions and deletions. This identification confirms that the Cas9 cut was a success.