Paying it forward

Since arriving at MIT in fall 2019, senior Sherry Nyeo has carried out groundbreaking work in a number of labs on campus, acted as a mentor to numerous different college students, and made a long-lasting mark on the Institute group. However regardless of her well-earned bragging rights, Nyeo isn’t one to boast. As an alternative, she takes each alternative to precise simply how grateful she is to the professors, alumni, and fellow college students who’ve helped and impressed her throughout her time at MIT. “I like serving to individuals if I can,” says Nyeo, who’s majoring in pc science and molecular biology, “as a result of I bought helped a lot.”

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Nyeo’s ardour for science started when she utilized for the Selective Science Program at Tainan First Senior Excessive Faculty, extensively thought of probably the most prestigious excessive faculties in Taiwan. “Making ready for that course of made me understand that biology was fairly cool,” she recollects.

When Nyeo was 16, her household moved from Taiwan to Colorado, the place she continued to domesticate her curiosity in STEM. Though she excelled at biology, she initially struggled to grasp pc science. “[Programming] was actually laborious for me,” she says. “It was a totally completely different mind-set.” When she arrived at MIT, she determined to pursue a level in pc science exactly as a result of she knew she would discover it difficult and since she appreciates how very important information evaluation is to the sphere of biology. In any case, she says, whenever you’re working on the scale of cells and molecules, “you want lots of information to explain what’s occurring.”

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Within the winter of her first 12 months at MIT, Nyeo started doing hands-on analysis in laboratories on campus by means of the Undergraduate Analysis Alternatives Program (UROP). Her work within the lab of Whitehead Fellow Silvi Rouskin sparked a permanent curiosity in RNA, which she has come to treat as her “favourite biomolecule.”

Nyeo’s work within the Rouskin lab targeted on various RNA buildings and the roles they play in human and viral biology. Whereas DNA largely exists as a double helix, RNA can fold itself into an enormous number of buildings in an effort to fulfill completely different features. Throughout her time as a scholar researcher, Nyeo has demonstrated an analogous skill to adapt to completely different circumstances. When MIT campus members evacuated because of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, and her UROP turned totally distant, she handled her time away from the lab as a chance to discover the computational facet of analysis. Her work was subsequently included in a Nature Communications paper on the SARS-CoV-2 genome, on which she is listed as a co-author.

Since returning to campus, Nyeo has usually labored in a number of labs concurrently, conducting revolutionary analysis whereas additionally juggling lessons, internships, and a number of other demanding extracurriculars. Via all of it, she has continued to pursue her fascination with RNA, a tiny, considerably unassuming molecule that nonetheless has an enormous impression on virtually each facet of our biology. Nyeo, who has proven herself to be equally multifaceted, appears particularly well-suited to the research of this outstanding biomolecule.

Though Nyeo’s work within the life sciences retains her busy, she finds time to nurture a various set of different passions. She took a category on experimental ethics, is engaged on an authentic screenplay, and has even picked up a minor in German. Since her sophomore 12 months, she has additionally been part of the New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) program, which supplies college students with multidisciplinary pursuits the chance to collaborate throughout departments. Via NEET, at the moment directed by professor of organic engineering Mark Bathe, Nyeo has been capable of pursue her curiosity in bioengineering analysis and connect with an unlimited group of scholars and professors. Most lately, she has been working inside the Bathe BioNano Lab to make use of DNA to engineer new supplies on the nanometer scale.

Nyeo hopes to place her expertise to make use of by pursuing a profession in biotechnology. She is at the moment minoring in administration and desires of at some point beginning her personal firm. However she doesn’t need to go away academia behind simply but and has begun engaged on purposes for PhD applications in biology. “I initially got here in considering that I’d simply go straight into the biotech trade,” Nyeo explains. “After which I noticed that I don’t dislike analysis and that I truly take pleasure in it.”

As a part of her present work within the lab of professor of biology David Bartel, Nyeo investigates how viral an infection impacts RNA metabolism, and she or he usually finds herself utilizing her computational expertise to assist postdocs with their information evaluation. In truth, one of many issues Nyeo has most loved about working as a scholar researcher is the chance to affix a community of people that present each other with assist and steering.

Nyeo’s willingness to assist others is maybe the facet of her persona that most accurately fits her to the research of RNA. Over the previous few a long time, researchers have found an more and more giant variety of therapeutic makes use of for RNA, together with most cancers immunotherapy and vaccine improvement. In the summertime of 2022, Nyeo labored as an intern at Eli Lilly and Firm, the place she helped determine potential targets for RNA therapeutics. She could proceed to discover this space of analysis when she finally enters the biotech trade. Within the meantime, nevertheless, she’s discovering methods to assist individuals nearer to house.

Since her first 12 months, Nyeo has been part of the MIT Biotech Group. When she first joined, the group had a reasonably small undergraduate presence, and most occasions have been geared towards graduate college students and postdocs. Nyeo instantly devoted herself to creating the group extra welcoming for undergraduates. Because the director of the Undergraduate Initiative and later the undergraduate scholar president, she was a number one architect of a brand new seminar sequence through which MIT alumni got here to campus to show undergraduates about biotechnology. “There are lots of technical phrases related to [biotech],” Nyeo explains. “For those who simply are available as an undergrad, not understanding what’s taking place, that may be a bit daunting.”

Between her analysis within the Bartel lab and her work with NEET and the MIT Biotech Group, Nyeo doesn’t have lots of free time, however she dedicates most of it to creating MIT a friendlier atmosphere for brand spanking new college students. She promotes analysis alternatives as a UROP panelist and has labored as an affiliate advisor since her junior 12 months. She helps first-year college students select and register for lessons, works with college advisors, and supplies ethical assist to college students who’re feeling overwhelmed with choices. “Once I got here [to MIT], I additionally didn’t know what I wished to do,” Nyeo explains. “Upperclassmen helped me loads with that course of, and I need to pay it ahead.”


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