Grad program: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Undergrad: BA in Biochemistry, Hunter College of CUNY
Hometown: Burkina Faso, West Africa
Advisor: Markus Seeliger
How does it feel to earn an NSF GRF?
I feel excited and honored to be a recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. I am most thankful to everyone who advised and supported me during the application process.
What will this award allow you to do that you might not have done without it?
This award will allow me to attend conferences and to present my research to a wide variety of people and to receive feedback from many scientists other than the ones at my institution. I will therefore be able to build a strong network that I may have otherwise not been able to do without this fellowship. The fellowship will also give me the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities, such as planning and conducting workshops with high school students to educate them about the importance of a scientific path and to inspire them to pursue science.
What will you research and how might it benefit the world?
The binding of small molecule ligands to proteins is fundamental for the essential functions of every living system. For instance, most cellular biosynthesis processes such as DNA replication, RNA transcription and protein synthesis are governed by cell signaling and enzymatic activities that require protein-ligand interactions. Enzyme activity and cellular signaling is limited in many cases by the rates of ligand association and dissociation. Uncovering the biophysical principles underlying the ligand binding process will provide fundamental insights into the function of proteins and facilitate efforts to rationally modify enzyme function for biotechnology applications and of receptors for ligand detection in biosensors. It will also benefit scientists interested in the rational design of agrochemicals, veterinary and human therapeutics.
What sparked your interest in your research, or science in general?
Growing up, I had a strong interest in teaching and inspiring many students as many of my teachers had continually inspired me throughout my academic journey. In that sense, my motivation to pursue science is my passion for discovery of something that would contribute to our understanding of life functions, along with the philosophy that the combination of research and teaching is a very effective way of engaging students by providing real life scientific examples. This is what persuaded me to pursue research at the graduate level.