Can you give some background on yourself and your research?
During my tenure with the Sartorelli research group at Yale University, my principal focus is to design small molecule anticancer therapies that both increase patient survival rates and lessen the side effects of existing anticancer therapies. Our research group develops prodrugs that are selectively activated in hypoxic tumor cells, and after reductive activation, chemotherapeutic agents then modify the O6-position of DNA guanine. As a protein chemist, my specific objectives include designing targeted molecules, characterizing their enzymatic activation, and evaluating their in vivo effects. In addition to my primary research, I am developing diagnostic tools to detect multidrug resistance in cancer cells. While pursuing a career as a research scientist, I also hope to make important contributions to STEM education, through endeavors such as the non-profit student society I founded, called oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which aims to educate and develop underrepresented students from LGBTQA communities.
What did you expect from your participation in our Congressional visits program?
As an emerging researcher, I hoped that Hill Day would afford me a unique opportunity to learn about junctures where research scientists and academic professors can become involved in politics and/or policy. While in Washington, D.C., I hoped to participate in a full schedule of activities to gain exposure to the processes that dictate federal policies and funding for scientific research. Through participating in the program, I also hoped to learn about ways that we, as individuals, can enhance STEM infrastructure in the short-term and long-term; federal infrastructures responsible for STEM funding, education and policies; congressional (or other) processes by which STEM funding, education and policies are enacted; measures by which congress identifies successful or failing endeavors (and related assessment methodology); activities and professional interactions expected of scientist-politicians; infrastructures dedicated to underrepresented populations in the STEM disciplines (for example, the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering); and alternative careers for scientists.
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