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Meet Quan Nhan, a Ph.D. Student at UC Santa Barbara

Meet Quan Nhan!

My name is Quan Nhan, a third-year Ph.D. student at UCSB. My research is on microbiology, protein biochemistry, and bacterial genetics.

Why did you choose to join a research lab and what has the research, benchwork, or specific techniques taught you about a career in science? 

This is a great question. I have seen that many of my friends were ready to work after earning their bachelor’s degrees. However, I always have the ambition to know more and put my name out there to make discoveries. I volunteered in my research lab during my junior year and I was fascinated by the projects led by my PI. After my graduation, I decided to stay at UCSB to earn my Ph.D. in this field. Personally, I think there are two important factors in research or in science in general…patience and persistence.

What have you learned from working in a lab and how has your role contributed to the field of research?

I learned that there are always new techniques to be acquired. As a researcher, I strongly recommend asking your superior or mentor to always train you for new skills. You never know when you will need this skill in the long run. My role was to characterize the activity and active sites of different bacterial toxins, which may be useful for future research and biotech applications.

What are your career goals and how has your research experience helped with this?

I am planning to be a research scientist at biotech companies. The lab trained me to be a better candidate to work in one of these companies. I am lucky to able to learn skills for targeting DNA, RNA, and proteinsthe key techniques to work in big companies.

What is the most exciting aspect of the lab you are in? What is the future application of this?  What is something that a non-scientist would find interesting/should know about?

The most exciting aspect of the lab is no one really knows the actual answers. My PI gives us complete freedom on investigating relevant questions. We work on a system called contact-dependent inhibition in enterobacteria. We want to harness the toxins and the delivery mechanism carried by this system for future antimicrobial applications. For the non-scientist, people may find it interesting to know that bacteria are always equipped with offensive and defensive mechanisms to target neighboring cells in order to maintain their populations.

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