Jacob Researches With Smith, Prepares for Physician Assistant Program

By Purnell T. Cropper | January 19, 2011

By Heather Mick ’11

Ansu Jacob ’11 is not only a student, volunteer, and distinguished scholar, she also is a scientist. During her third year at Arcadia, Jacob began collaborating with mentor and Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Sheryl Smith. In the laboratory, the pair investigates evolutionary differences between two species of fruit flies using bioinformatics—a method that utilizes computer science and statistics. Jacob uses a number of techniques, including RT-PCR and Western blotting of proteins, to assess levels of gene expression between the two species.

“We are currently working on identifying the differences in gene expression of an olfactory gene between D. melanogaster and D. simulans to see if the differences are correlated with a nearby gene sequence called an insulator,” says Jacob. “This experience has allowed me to develop a one-on-one mentoring relationship with Dr. Smith and other professors in the biology department.”

In addition to being interested in nature, Jacob remarks that the opportunity to work side-by-side with professors has been an invaluable adventure.

“The research I have conducted has helped me understand many concepts and techniques that I learned in biology classes,” Jacob says. “The research experience that I have gained has also given me a competitive advantage when applying to graduate schools. During interviews, my research was often the main topic and made me a more qualified applicant.”

After graduation, Jacob will return to Arcadia as a graduate student in the Physician Assistant program.

“I am very thankful for the valuable research opportunities that I have received at Arcadia,” she says. “The collaborative interaction with professors showed me how it is to have a place in the research community and gave me the chance to experience science.”