My name is Danaiijah Vilsaint, and I am a recent graduate of UMass Amherst. Research is an invaluable experience and something I encourage undergraduates to participate in. Through BUA, I was able to get into the Pallas lab my junior year. I learned so much about the brain and the anatomy of mice. Unfortunately, Covid cut that experience short. I was disheartened and didn't think I would be able to get any more research experience.
In the summer before my senior year, I learned about a new remote research opportunity dealing with giant viruses and coding with Prof. Blanchard. This experience put me out of my comfort zone and helped me expand my skill set. I learned how to code in R and use different software, collaborate with members remotely, and I was able to make new friends. This is an opportunity for which I am very grateful and because of this experience, I was able to secure a National Science Foundation post-baccalaureate fellowship to continue research on microbial biodiversity in forests across the country working on a collaboration between Prof. Blanchard and Prof. Sydne Record at Bryn Mawr College.