Hannah Chung, MS3
AB, Chemical and Physical Biology, Mathematics Secondary, 2009, Harvard College
Past research experience:
In high school, I undertook various projects at Texas State University and at MIT in the field of math known as graph theory. In my last two years as an undergraduate, I became interested in evolution and genomics and conducted research in Professor Andrew Murray’s lab on the distribution of fitness effects of deleterious mutations in S. cerevisiae, which formed the basis of my honor’s thesis. Our research consisted in inducing mutations in yeast and competing them against an unmutated reference strain to compile a distribution of sizes of the fitness effects. Last summer, I worked in Professor Michael White’s lab, writing programs to analyze data from massively parallel sequencing of RNA (RNA-seq) experiments in order to discover single-nucleotide somatic mutations which were present in a non-small cell lung cancer line. We were able to compare hits from the lung cancer line with those from a normal bronchial epithelial cell line from the same patient, thus identifying the mutations which occurred specifically in the cancer cell line in this individual. Over the MS2 year I performed the same analysis with massively parallel sequencing of the exome (Exome-seq) in the same lines to verify these hits.
Current research areas of interest:
Currently, I am interested in cancer biology, genomics, and the exploding field of bioinformatics. At the moment I am focused on broadening my search to identify other types of mutations aside from single-nucleotide mutations in the Exome-seq experiment, and on determining the functional significance of these mutations.
Current professional trajectory:
In the future, I hope to practice medicine and to pursue research that could help to directly advance the care of my patients at an academic medical institution. I would also be thrilled with the opportunity to work with students and researchers at various points along their academic training.
Personal words of wisdom:
From talking to a lot of people and from personal experience, I’ve found that the first lab you ever work in may not necessarily be the perfect one for your circumstances. Work hard no matter what, but keep an open mind and pay attention to the topics that really pique your interest. If one situation is not working out, it may be a good idea to find another project or even lab where the research truly captures your fascination. It is often easy to forget that you have a say over what your unique interests and capabilities are. Second, and probably most important in my experience, try to seek out a mentor who has a vision for you and who truly takes an interest in your development. Finding such a mentor can magnify what you get out of your experience by several orders of magnitude. Third, actively seek out opportunities to present your work. As another SMSRS member mentioned, this helps you organize what you have done as well as develop a clearer idea of where you need to go further down the road. Take the chance to present your project at a lab meeting, as you will be able to hold up to pretty significant scrutiny once you are able to explain what you did to the rest of your lab.
Hannah Chung, Nilay Karahan, Andrew Murray. “Distribution of fitness effects of deleterious mutations in S. cerevisiae.” Poster: Harvard Undergraduate Research Symposium, Cambridge, MA.
Hannah Chung, Nilay Karahan, Andrew Murray. “Distribution of fitness effects of deleterious mutations in S. cerevisiae.” Poster: Program for Research in Science and Engineering poster forum, Cambridge, MA.
Hannah Chung, Nilay Karahan, Andrew Murray. “Distribution of fitness effects of deleterious mutations in S. cerevisiae.” Poster: Microbial Sciences Initiative poster forum, Cambridge, MA.
Hannah Chung, Hyunseok Kim, Michael White. “Cataloguing tumor suppressive single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) from a matched pair of NSCLC and normal bronchial epithelial cell lines using massively parallel sequencing of the exome.” Poster: UT Southwestern Medical Student Research Forum, January 18, 2011.
Hannah Chung, Hyun Seok Kim, Michael White. “Identifying potential single-nucleotide variants in candidate genes for non-small cell cancer therapy using massively parallel sequencing of the transcriptome (RNA-seq).” Oral presentation: Southern Regional Meetings, American Federation for Medical Research (AFMR), February 18, 2011, New Orleans, LA. (Recipient of AFMR SSCI Student Travel Award.)
Chung, H, D. Ferrero, A. Taylor, and J. Warshauer. “Diameter of k -path Graphs.” Journal of Discrete Mathematical
Sciences and Cryptography . 7 (2003), No. 1, 49-54.