The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department is proud to be called home to some of the most outstanding undergraduate students in higher education. These students display a high level of dedication, not only in furthering their education but in their desire to be on the frontlines of scientific discovery.
One such student is Anjali McNeil, a Junior from Westborough Massachusetts majoring in the Molecular and Cell Biology option of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Her early interest in science formed during the 8 years of science summer camp I which she attended, and later at which she became a camp counselor. Although she loved science, it was not until her freshman year of high school that her interest narrowed on biochemistry and molecular biology. As part of her honors biology class she performed a series of laboratory modules designed by Amgen, Inc. As part of the modules the class transformed competent E. coli cells with a plasmid containing a protein that made the colonies turn pink when grown on a particular sugar. It was Anjali’s favorite part of the year and prompted her to take more biology classes to prepare for a career in biochemistry and molecular biology.
When selecting schools to consider continuing her education, at the top of her list were institutions where she could conduct research. Penn State, and more specifically BMB, have an abundance of opportunities available for undergraduate students to conduct research. Ultimately it was the research opportunities she would have as a first-year student that appealed to Anjali and confirmed her commitment to Penn State. Currently the department has Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) opportunities centered around two different themes, one focused on phage discovery, and the other on antibiotic discovery.
Currently Anjali is undergraduate researcher working under the guidance of assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology Timothy Miyashiro. The Miyashrio Laboratory studies the symbiosis between the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid and Vibrio fischeri. Anjali is currently engaged on the Type VI Secretion System Project which studies a molecular mechanism of killing bacteria that is possessed by some strains of Vibrio fischeri. Her project investigates the extent to which T6SS-mediated interactions impact the establishment and maintenance of strain diversity within a host.
In addition to her work in the lab, Anjali participates in several extracurricular activities to round out her Penn State Story. She’s been a member of the Oriana Singers, a treble choir through Penn State’s School of Music, since her freshman year in 2017. Additionally, she has sat on two THON committees - the Rules & Regulations during her freshman year, and the Dancer Relations committee for the past two years. Lastly, Anjali is an active member of Omega Phi Alpha, a national service sorority.
After graduating with her degree Anjali plans to attend graduate school and earn her Ph.D. Her goal is to one day become a faculty member at a research institution and lead her own research group as a Principle Investigator.