CALS Student Presents Biotechnology Research

As a student in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), Zoe Fang wanted to participate in undergraduate research. Fang, a recent microbiology and cell science graduate, attended the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)’s Annual Student Conference in Orlando, Florida. At the conference, she presented research, networked with industry members, and learned about career opportunities. Fang during poster presentation.

Fang worked in UF Chemical Engineering assistant professor Piyush Jain’s lab for more than a year. Her research focused on CRISPR-Cas technology applications in genetics. This technology has the potential to treat genetic diseases. Fang noted that working in Jain’s lab was an integral part of her student experience

“As someone with a genetic disability, participating in CRISPR-Cas research at UF has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in college,” said Fang. “I’ve gained hands-on experience with experimental design, writing for academic journal publication, and laboratory techniques.” 

At the conference, Fang participated in the Undergraduate Student Poster Competition. Her poster focused on showing that the CRISPR-Cas9 system can be used to store and encrypt digital information such as physical DNA. This biotechnology tool can locate specific DNA sequences and make cuts in DNA like a pair of scissors, which is how it can treat genetic diseases.  

Fang had spent months working with the lab team to conduct experiments and analyze data. During this time, she also worked on creating her poster highlighting the lab’s workflow and experiment results. Fang’s hard work paid off, as she received third place in the Food, Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology poster division.  

Fang with third place poster trophy.

“I was exceptionally proud to accept the award for my research on behalf of myself, my lab, CALS, and the University of Florida,” said Fang.  

After presenting her research poster, Fang joined in on the rest of the conference. The career discovery panel allowed Fang to learn about how individuals found success in the biotechnology industry. She also chatted with several graduate program representatives and biotechnology corporations about opportunities.  

One of the most important takeaways for Fang was networking. She connected with students, industry professionals and researchers from all over the United States. Several collegiate faculty members were impressed with Fang’s work and asked her to keep in touch with them.  

“The knowledge and connections gained from these experiences were absolutely invaluable for my future as a UF graduate looking to break into my professional career,” said Fang. “When I look back on my time at UF, my experience attending this conference will absolutely stand out, and I’m so thankful that it was made possible through the support of CALS.” 

The VP Promise offers financial support to students engaging in experiential learning opportunities within agriculture, natural resources and related sciences. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is dedicated to fostering student development and success, encouraging students to expand their horizons through participation in study abroad programs, leadership roles, scholarly conferences, and other enriching experiences. 


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Posted: June 10, 2024

Category: UF/IFAS Research, UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: Biotechnology, Microbiology And Cell Science, Student Research, VP Promise

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