Min Sum (Ruby) Chiang
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Coming into UMass, I knew I wanted to major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, because I found Biology and Chemistry to be the most interesting subjects I learned in high school. As a Freshman BMB major, I decided to explore the subject outside of my classes by joining the Biochemistry Club. Looking back, these decisions became an integral part of where I am today.
 
The Biochemistry club sells coffee as a way to fund the events held during the year. I signed up as a coffee sales volunteer and was placed with a fellow BMB major, Mike Veling. He introduced me to the faculty as well as the research they were involved in as they passed through the lobby of the LGRT, where we were selling coffee. Our conversations always left me a little more prepared with my freshman experience. It was he who suggested I take a more active role in the club.
 
Today I am a Junior and President of the Biochemistry club. I still cannot believe how much my involvement with the group has grown. I work with my fellow officers in coordinating events to benefit not only BMB majors, but also anyone interested in networking opportunities, workshops, trips to life science companies, or any of the other various events the club provides. It is my hope that the club will continue to grow and meet the needs of its members in order to prepare them for life after their Bachelor’s program.
 
As a student, I have come to know the department from the academic and advising side to the business end from when I was Treasurer of the Biochemistry Club. I can say without a doubt the BMB faculty and staff are an amazing group of people, that I am happy to have formed relationships with. Although a small department, they have definitely made an impact in my educational experience.
 
I am currently in Dr. Li-Jun Ma’s laboratory, where I study the functional genomics of protein kinase genes inFusarium, a filamentous fungus that can cause wilt diseases in crops, but certain strains are also pathogenic to people with a compromised immune system. I am also investigating the plant-fungal interactions of the fungus and Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant, to understand the actin gene and its role in protecting the plant from the fungus.
 
UMass may be a large campus where you can easily be overwhelmed, but I found a place where I belong. If you are reading this, I encourage you to reach out to those around you. You will be surprised by how friendly people are and you never know what may happen.