By Dani Flores
Next in our series highlighting undergraduate students at Yale’s West Campus is Mikayla Osumah in the Institute of Biomolecular Design and Discovery!
Mikayla is a New Haven native and a recent graduate of Quinnipiac University, where she majored in biomedical sciences with a minor in microbiology and immunology. Through a partnership between West Campus and New Haven Promise - a scholarship program for graduates of New Haven Public Schools - Mikayla has been working as a summer intern in Dr. Jason Crawford’s lab at the Institute of Biomolecular Design and Discovery.
“I was really intrigued by the work being done here because I knew the projects would be applicable to research in the medical field,” she said when describing her initial interest in research at Yale. Mikayla wanted to join the Crawford Lab since it relates to her background in microbiology. The Crawford Lab investigates new molecules and their genes to understand their roles in signaling, antimicrobial, and anticancer activities.
“I’ve had science lab courses throughout high school and college, and I’ve done most of these techniques before, but I was never the one to plan them or make adjustments to experimental procedures,” said Mikayla. With the mentorship of graduate student Rachelle Hunt, Mikayla’s project focuses on using CRISPR-Cas9 to explore which human enzymes contribute to essential cell signaling pathways of interest. She has been creating DNA sequences to observe changes in the way that immune cells initiate inflammation. This project will contribute to growing research on how small molecules can worsen inflammation in disease states, which can be applied to drug development.
“You don’t have to get successful results on the first try,” says Mikayla of her experience in the lab. “There are no set expectations on completing an experiment in a week.”
She has also gained knowledge about furthering her research career through a new network of graduate student colleagues. “The grad students here have given me great advice and share information about higher education, resume building, and how to ask good research questions.”
Aside from work in the lab, Mikayla has been enjoying various activities with her colleagues this summer. “We’ve had dinner together, went to an escape room (which we won), and have gone out for ice cream. The whole experience has been very rewarding.”
Mikayla was speaking to Dani Flores, Yale ‘25, who is focusing on communications at West Campus as part of a summer internship through the New Haven Promise Program.