When I first learned of Aristotle’s concept of teleology, I was struck by how it appeals to my interest in science. I have always valued his example of the acorn holding within it the potential to become an oak tree, admiring the ways in which this principle applies to biology. The beautiful complexity of the human body emerges from the miniscule intricacy of the genetic code. DNA holds the story of a person’s heritage, physical appearance, risk of developing certain diseases, and even the number of times that person sneezes. All human possibilities reside within a small building block written in a distinct language.
This past summer I earned the opportunity to further my interests in molecular biology through a program concentrating on the genetic mutations that cause Pompe’s Disease, an autosomal recessive disorder resulting in rapid muscle degeneration. I have always thrived in my high school science classes, taking all of the science AP and elective courses offered at my school. The program at Bellevue Hospital’s Muscle Rehabilitation Unit presented a further challenge where I assisted a research scientist in his study of the genetic disease by amplifying, purifying, and sequencing patients’ DNA sequences and identifying certain mutations. This work satisfied my natural passion for science and propelled my skills and knowledge to the next level. High school labs are chosen for their immediate results, such as an obvious chemical reaction, so students can see science in action. Producing results with my work at Bellevue, however, required hours, even days, and the steps often had to be repeated. The preparation for the procedures alone required a great deal of time and attention to details. Handling such things as radioactive chemicals, fragile materials, and microscopic elements entailed meticulous efforts.
I discovered that compared to how our instant gratification culture operates, scientific progress is slow and even agonizing, much like the evolution of life itself—acorns do not become mighty oaks overnight. But with tender care from nature, the seed within can grow far beyond its shell. Such an amazing process reflects my willingness to patiently expand my academic possibilities in the field of biology.
Duke University’s impressive Department of Biology appeals to my academic interests in this field and to my hope of participating in direct research at a university. I especially like that the program’s Area of Concentration in Genetics consists of active researchers from various fields, including neurobiology, immunology, and medical genetics, as my goal is to discover a wide range of scientific issues in a hands-on manner, not simply study academic ideas in a classroom. I am eager to be a part of Duke’s elite program, learning from its elite faculty and contributing my own part to its exceptional reputation in scientific and medical research.