Pursuing Her Passions Aishwarya Vemagiri '25 hopes her summer research experience on diet-induced obesity will lead to a career in the medical field.
“I think the best thing about my lab experience was the people. My lab mates really made the experience enjoyable, the vibe in our lab was open and friendly, and our passion for our research drove us to explore different avenues that interest us.”
~Aishwarya Vemagiri ’25
Name: Aishwarya Vemagiri ’25
Hometown: Souderton, Pennsylvania
Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
Q: What factors led you to choose W&L?
The most attractive quality that appealed to me about Washington and Lee’s atmosphere is that all the classes here had smaller class sizes, which was important to me as I value getting to know my peers and professors. I also heard great things about the science programs like summer research which piqued my interest as I plan to pursue a career in the medical field.
Q: Tell us about the course of study you’re considering.
I am undeclared right now, but I plan to be a biochemistry major because I find that this discipline of science interests me the most and I enjoy chemistry. I am also fascinated with the humanities area of academics as my long-term goal is to be a doctor. Serving people and my community is what I aim to do, so I think that the poverty minor and the Shepherd Program will the perfect way to continue pursuing my passions.
Q: What kind of work are you doing this summer?
I worked in Associate Professor of Biology Sarah Blythe’s diet-induced obesity lab. This summer our lab looked at past raw data to see if there may be a finding hidden in all that precious unanalyzed material. This consisted of looking at rat videos and completing behavioral analysis testing through a coding program called BORIS; running metabolic, hormone, and protein panels; and doing laboratory testing on frozen anatomical rat parts such as the brain. Most of our day-to-day work as a team involved compiling data, running statistical tests, learning and applying various laboratory skills, and learning more background information about various molecules and physiology.
Q: What do you like most about it, and what has been most challenging so far?
I think the best thing about my lab experience was the people. My lab mates really made the experience enjoyable, the vibe in our lab was open and friendly, and our passion for our research drove us to explore different avenues that interest us. I think the most challenging thing that I believe any lab can relate to is deciding where you want to go next. There were times when our results were unexpected, and we came together to think about where we should go from there. Although this was something that I found challenging, I was glad to continually be in that position because it has shaped me to become a far better critical thinker than I used to be, and I believe that this skill will be the key to helping me throughout my academic career and for the rest of my life.
Q: What aspect of the work has surprised you the most so far?
Something that surprised me was how in control the students are of the research they do. In the beginning, it took me about a week to get used to the idea that the work in the research project was directed and guided however the students wanted to take it and that professors were there to mainly give advice and steer you on a right path. I have never had an experience like this before, but I really enjoyed it.
Q: How do you think your current summer experience – and others you’ve had in the past, if applicable – will impact your future career path?
I am a STEM student and someone who plans to major in biochemistry in the future, so I think this research experience improved my lab skills, taught me how to work out big projects with peers, helped me learn to take efficient and effective notes, trained me to read complicated research papers and understand them, showed me how to conduct data collection, and then gave me experience creating a project with the data given. All these skills will be useful for me not only as a biochemistry major here at Washington and Lee, but also in my future pursuits, especially if my plans of becoming a doctor come true.
Q: Outside of your internship, what have you enjoyed the most about living and working in Rockbridge County this summer?
Outside of research I enjoyed taking nature walks, visiting the Safari Zoo in Rockbridge County, spending time watching movies and listening to music with my lab mates, and getting to know the AIM Scholars.
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