TAMUC Biology Undergrad Selected for Summer Research Program

Diksha Shakya, an undergraduate biology student at Texas A&M University-Commerce, is set to attend the Developing and Readying Underrepresented Minority Researchers (DRUMR) program this summer at Texas A&M University’s College of Medicine in College Station, Texas.

Funded by a grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the 10-week research program trains a qualifying junior from each institution in The Texas A&M University System based on eligibility, academic performance and career aspirations congruent with NIDDK research objectives.

The summer program offers undergraduate students with an interest in biomedical research the opportunity to work in a laboratory and perform a research project. Participants are matched with a faculty mentor in their field of interest to gain insight into the development and implementation of biomedical research.

Participants will also engage in group activities to discuss principles of scientific investigation, ethical aspects of human and animal experimentation, and career development. Additionally, students will attend scientific seminars and workshops. The program ends with a formal research day where participants will present their research to judges, mentors and current Texas A&M College of Medicine medical and graduate students. Their abstracts will be published in a booklet and distributed throughout the college.

Shakya was selected from a pool of 18 eligible A&M-Commerce students. She hopes the program will allow her to explore her future career while encountering people with similar interests. She said she’s honored to represent A&M-Commerce and prove her abilities.

“I am very excited to learn, observe and participate in a scientific environment,” Shakya said.

As a teenager, Shakya envisioned working in the health field as a nurse and, eventually, a surgeon. However, she said her family’s struggles with several diseases, particularly diabetes, prompted her to shift her focus toward biomedical research.

“I would love to find the cure to a problem or discover why a specific disease develops in a person at the molecular level,” Shakya said. “More precisely, I would love to work with stem cells and develop therapies to cure significant diseases related to cardiac cells and neurons.”

Shakya immigrated from Nepal to the United States to advance her education. While attending community college, she decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree at A&M-Commerce, where she could easily interact with professors and exchange ideas.

“I wanted guidance on conducting proper scientific research with hands-on training,” she said. “I did not want to be lost in the crowd.”

Venu Cheriyath, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at A&M-Commerce, said Shakya will benefit greatly from the summer research program.

“Diksha is very enthusiastic about biomedical research,” Cheriyath said. “She is one of just a few students who continually seek opportunities to apply theoretical concepts learned in the classroom. The DRUMR program will be an excellent opportunity to further her research interests.”

The DRUMR summer research program begins May 24 and concludes on July 30.

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