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Life as Biology Major at UC Irvine – Emily Bryant’s Journey from Dublin High School to Science in SoCal

May 23, 2017

Our next article in our Life in College and Women in STEM Series features Dublin High School Class of 2016 graduate and UC Irvine freshman Emily Bryant. Emily is currently pursuing a major in biological sciences at UC Irvine

Me in front of Anteater Statue with Props

Mary Morehead: Transitioning from high school to college, and moving away from home, can be a big deal for many students. What helped you transition to life at UC Irvine?

Emily Bryant: “My planner definitely helped me. Without my planner I would have forgotten some of the things I was supposed to do, a planner helped me stay organized. Taking AP classes at Dublin High School really helped prepare me for college-level classes. I especially recommend AP Bio, AP Chem and AP Calc if you are planning to pursue biology in college. My first year biology class was my AP class from high school in a nutshell, with perhaps a little more detail. When you’ve already seen the material once it really helps prepare you.”

Morehead: Have you decided on a major?

Bryant: “At UC Irvine, at least for biology, you can work towards a general biology major and then in your third year you can choose a more specific major. I’m interested in genetics, so I’m looking to specialize in genetics during my third year.”

Morehead: I understand you are part of a research program. Tell me more about that opportunity.

Bryant: “Prior to college I participated in the NIH/NIDDK Step-Up Program during the summers of 2015 and 2016. It was a great way to learn skills I was going to need in the future to succeed in a science career, and likely helped me get into the research program at Irvine. I also developed presentation skills during the experience.

“The summer experiences in science I had during high school were really productive and helped me move ahead. I entered college with more experience than my peers which in turn has opened more doors. I definitely believe it’s important to take breaks and have fun, I’m just saying that if you want to move ahead you’re going to have to hold yourself to high standards and get done what you know you need to get done, then you can mess around for some time!

“I am currently in MSP’s (Minority Sciences Program)  MBRS-IMSD (Initiative for Maximizing Student Development) program. MSP is run by UC Irvine, and IMSD is a NIH funded program. I work in the Mota-Bravo Lab here at Steinhaus Hall where the main goals are looking at bacteria that develop a resistance to antibiotics. Three areas of focus include (1) a project on the resistome and virulentome (identifying antibiotic resistance genes and the bacteria that carry them (2) Experimental evolution of multidrug resistant plasmids and (3) origin and evolution of antibiotic resistance genes.”

Morehead: How has participating in this research program complemented your classroom studies?

Bryant: “It’s giving me a lot of opportunities right now. We get to apply what we’re learning in the classroom, and we’re enhancing our resumes. My understanding is that in your third year the program branches out including opportunities to travel abroad, and work in labs overseas.”

Morehead: How important is taking multiple science courses in high school?

Bryant: “If you are planning to pursue science in college learning how to balance multiple science classes during high school is important.”

Morehead: What is your advice for high school students that have interest in a STEM major?

Bryant: “Use your time wisely because over the summer you can do a lot of stuff that will help prepare you for college. Science and math programs are competitive so your GPA matters, you’ll need good grades to demonstrate you can do well at the college level. Extracurricular programs, in my case the NIH/NIDDK Step-Up Program, really make a difference.”

Morehead: What sparked your interest in science?

Bryant: “When I was a kid I loved the toy ‘Littlest Pet Shop’, and how the different characters had similar features and were related. When I was older I connected the dots to genetics and how the science of genetics helps define who we are!”

At the Dublin High School 2016 Senior Awards Night Emily Bryant was awarded the African American Achievement and Excellence Award, President’s Gold Award for Education Excellence, is a member of the National Honor Society, is a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, was named a GAEL Scholar, and earned Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar Diploma.


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