Abby R. Thurm

Meet recent UCLA graduate, Abby Thurm, who graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry this Spring 2020. Abby was awarded the Undergraduate Science Journal‘s Best Life Science Research Article for her article titled “Defective-Interfering RNAs as Antiviral Therapy Against Yellow Fever Virus.”

How did you first get involved in your research project?

I was lucky enough to take a very small honors chemistry class in winter of my freshmen year, and approached the professor (my now-PI, Dr. William Gelbart) early in the quarter about potentially joining his lab. He took a chance on me, and neither of us has looked back since – I’ve worked for him for the past four years and been involved in projects ranging from biophysics, to synthetic biology, and now to coronavirus.

How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

My research experience at UCLA was by far the best part of my undergraduate experience as a whole. Through research, I found my passion, met amazing role models and mentors, and grew so much academically and personally.

What is one piece of advice you have for other students thinking about getting involved in research?

Make sure you try to identify mentors who are as invested in your success as you are in their work! Advocate for yourself – ask questions, try to identify what you’re passionate about, and show your mentor that you’re trying to get as much out of your research experience as possible.

What are your future career goals?

I’m starting an M.D./Ph.D. program at Stanford in fall, and from there would love to eventually run a lab and be a PI.