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Inside Mizzou Extra: Show Me Research & Creative Works

May 6, 2019 09:00 AM
Maha_Hamed
Maha Hamed pictured with Mizzou's IMSD Undergraduate Director Brian Booton at MU Life Sciences Week Poster Session
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Maha Hamed
Senior, Biochemistry
Columbia, Mo.

Maha spent last summer doing research at MU and also won the Outstanding Poster Presentation award at the 2017 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. She will be starting the University of Michigan’s doctoral program in molecular biology this fall.

Hi, my name is Maha Hamed, and I am a senior studying biochemistry. In this edition of Inside Mizzou extra, myself and a group of students are here to discuss the research, scholarship and art we’re doing across campus and around the world.

I chose biochemistry — I’ve always loved science and I loved biology — but I like this more detailed, zoomed-in look, and biochemistry offered it to me. Many say it’s one of the harder majors, but I like the challenge even though I knew it was hard. But to me I always found it interesting. And kind of going alongside that, the reason why I love science so much is because it is such an important part of science is discovery and of looking for the unknown and discovering it. Therefore, since the start of my freshman year, I knew immediately I wanted to get started in a research lab.

Since my freshman year I’ve been in the lab in biochemistry with Dr. Antje Heese. Her lab looks at the role of vesicular trafficking in plant immunity. So, basically what that means is vesicular trafficking is just like the subway system inside of plant cells. So, how things move around, and so we’re looking at why is it so important that stuff get to the right place in the right time in order for plants to protect themselves.

Because I think we can all agree that plants are an important part of our lives — for food, clothes — and we lose such a big part of it due to like pathogens or bacteria, so we’re trying to understand how they protect themselves and hope to create a new plant that is engineered in a way that it can survive drought or it can survive a bacteria attack. So, the hopes for this research — so right now we’re looking at Arabidopsis, which is just a small weed plant, it’s our model plant — but our hopes is to translate that information into corn and in tomatoes. That’s such a big part of Missouri — those two crops, especially just America as a whole.

And also we have an issue of food insecurity. So, the hopes is even though it just seems like insular in a lab that we’re just like messing around with plants, but really we hope to have this spawn impact that no one’s able to go hungry.

Everyone has the right amount of food, everyone has clothes on their backs because we’re able to provide enough crops in order to satisfy that growing need. And that’s kind of the big picture. But for me what I want to take from this research is kind of this ability to adapt and to kind of accept the unknown. It has also made me realize that I loved research and I want to continue it as a career.

I originally came in as pre-pharmacy thinking that was going to be research, not just like sitting and counting pills. But really I wanted to be the one making the drugs, so I realized during this time that I wanted to do research as a career. Instead of going to pharmacy, I’m actually going to graduate school to get my PhD in molecular biology at the University of Michigan. And what my hopes is to actually go into academia. I have learned so much by so many of my mentors here, and research was a great tool. Research has taught me not to only understand the material of biochemistry and plants, but also to understand myself internally.

I hope long term to become a professor and maybe come back to Mizzou and kind of help that next generation of scientists to use research and to use it not only as a tool to understand the material, but also as a tool to understand themselves.

To listen to and/or read the transcript of the full podcast featuring all five undergraduate student scholars at University of Missouri, please visit https://chancellor.missouri.edu/news/inside-mizzou-extra-​show-me-research-creative-works/.

Text courtesy and photo of Dr. Linda Blockus, Director of UGR at University of Missouri.

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