Biology

Department Spotlight

Pre-Med Major Conducting Genetics Research as Lab Assistant

Whitworth junior Sara Hornor, a pre-med major, was recently hired as a lab assistant for Dr. Lisa Shaffer, a nationally renowned genetics researcher at Washington State University. Shaffer researches deletions (the cancellation of a part of a chromosome) that lead to mental retardation.

Hornor, the only non-post-doctoral student working in the lab, will assist with basic lab research and will conduct her own research on FISH -- Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization -- a technique that marks genes with a fluorescent label that can be viewed under a fluorescent-light microscope. The technique is used to detect disease by determining if genes are present or absent.

"This is an amazing learning experience; I am doing things that I have only read about," Hornor says. "There are five other women in the lab who are working on major projects. I get to watch, learn, and do a little research on my own. I am witnessing the kind of research that pushes medicine forward."

After graduation, Hornor plans to attend medical school and is interested in studying pediatrics and women's health.

"I would like to someday provide healthcare for low-income women and women who live in third-world and war-zone areas," she says.

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