Romesa Asif Khan, a Biology major from the BS Class of 2017, is one of 16 students chosen for a Summer Research Programme at the world renowned Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Janelia Research Campus. “It’s a personal milestone for me to have one of my students go to Janelia. Romesa is the first Pakistani student to be chosen in a fully funded Summer Research Programme,” says Dr. Muhammad Tariq, Chair, Department of Biology, Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE). Romesa has been working in Dr. Tariq’s Epigenetics lab for the last two years on the inheritance of vision based memory in fruit flies.
Janelia Research Campus is Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) cutting edge research center, located in Ashburn, Virginia. Scientists here pursue research in the field of neuroscience and imaging in an inter-disciplinary manner. The prestigious Janelia Summer Internship Programme will begin in June 2016 and is for a duration of 10 weeks. Dr. Tariq further expands, “Janelia is the top research institute in the world for neuroscience. They work on understanding the neural networks and on developing cutting edge advanced tools for imagining living cells. They research on how we think and how memories are stored.”
Romesa had also received an offer for the summer internship programme in the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI). She was one of 35 chosen from a pool of 800 applicants. “It had been my childhood dream to go to Harvard. But now I am really excited about going to Janelia!” says Romesa enthusiastically. She described the hour long Skype interview that took place for her Janelia application during which she gave a presentation about the research project she is working on in the Epigenetics lab at SBASSE.
“We are working on a project where we have designed experiments to train fruit flies on visual effects. Once the flies form an association with a particular visual cue, we then study whether these associations are carried forward or passed on to their future generations, through the embedding of these visual experiences of the parent flies,” explains Romesa.
Dr. Tariq says, “The curriculum, high quality teaching and cross-disciplinary experience of our students’ workings at the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering is proving to be the perfect mix for producing the next generation of scientists. This is being proven over and over again with the placements of our students and graduates at premier universities and research institutes around the world. Our students have gone to top universities like Harvard, Columbia, UChicago, Cornell, Dartmouth, Texas A&M and others already, and this year our students are being selected at prestigious research campuses like SCRIPPS and now Janelia.”
According to Dr. Tariq, the differentiating characteristics of the undergraduates at LUMS is their exposure to interdisciplinary research. He firmly believes this is what sets them apart from other science graduates around the world.
Dr. Tariq’s passion for producing the next generation of scientists shines through as he says, “This internship at Janelia will have a long lasting impact on Romesa. It will prove to be a stepping stone for her and while Romesa will learn a lot at Janelia; Janelia will also learn a lot about LUMS SBASSE and the quality of researchers we are producing here.”