Charisa Cottonham, a PhD student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, was profiled in Young Scientist, an annual career guide for underrepresented science graduates. Cottonham, who grew up east of the San Francisco Bay in an area she said is “often referred to as the ghetto,” earned her undergraduate degree in molecular biology at UCLA before pursuing her PhD here at the GSBS in the laboratory of Lan Xu, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine.
Last year Cottonham received a 2010 Hope Scholarship from the Biomedical Science Careers Program, an organization she credits with helping her strive toward her goal of becoming an independent investigator. Cottonham’s work focuses on the function of microRNAs in TGF-beta-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, a process that is directly relevant to cancer metastasis.
In her profile, Cottonham reflected on her love of science and research and her determination to not only have an impact on our understanding of human disease, but also to put biomedical research “within the reach of urban youth.” Projected to graduate in June 2011, she hopes to continue her research while also working with high school and university faculty to help them integrate simple lab-based science experiments into their curricula, and show youth that research isn’t “just for ‘nerds’ who have near-perfect academic records.”
Read the profile here and see the press release issued when Cottonham received the Hope Scholarship.