ABE-LA Alum Shares His Journey
ABE-LA Alum Shares His Journey
Edward Oropeza’s journey into biotechnology began when he participated in the Amgen Biotech Experience as a student at Fullerton High School. Having enjoyed the ABE program, he decided to volunteer at Saturday Workday, an internship program hosted at Fullerton College where students learn how to prepare reagents like agar plates, and sterile aliquots for high schools participating in ABE. Edward then earned two biotech certificates from Fullerton College and transferred to UC Irvine where he is pursuing a biochemistry and molecular biology degree.
“I first became interested in science after reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.” Edward says he was captivated by the ethical dilemma surrounding human gene editing and was struck by the scientific predictions of the science fiction novel published in 1932. His growing interest in science led him to take on AP biology, biomedical courses, and the ABE labs during his last year of high school.
Edward recalls how science courses were intimidating to him at first and at times felt discouraged but his drive to learn and curiosity about gene editing technology helped him power through difficult courses and master arcane scientific concepts.
Edward credits his success to dedicated instructors like Dr. Jo Wu, teaching assistants, and the ABE community who provided him a supportive learning environment in which he was able to develop laboratory skills and confidence working with others.
Edward recommends the ABE labs to all students who are interested in pursuing careers in science or medicine. He believes the ABE labs encourage scientific interests and help participants develop familiarity with laboratory equipment. He also recommends the labs to students who are unsure about their career interests as they provide opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, visualization skills, and scientific literacy.
Edward understands that STEM careers might not be for everyone, but everyone stands to gain something from better understanding STEM concepts. Ultimately, for the ABE labs allowed him to be a competitive candidate when applying to schools and internships.
Since participating in the ABE labs, Edward has been able to grow his lab experience through research internships at USC, UCI, and CU Boulder.
During these internships Edward conducted research involving crystallography studies of RNA cleaving enzymes, the biophysical elements of CRISPR, the use of CRISPR technology on flies, and bioinformatics. Presently, Edward is excited to be working on a research project related to the intersection of bioinformatics and CRISPR mechanisms in Drosophila melanogaster.
Looking forward, Edward is interested in pursuing a PhD so that he can become an expert in the computational analysis of biological data. Edward notes that most fields of biology involve bioinformatics, leaving him many options for potential PhD programs to join. He is passionate about overcoming the barriers associated with obtaining a doctoral degree as an underrepresented minority in STEM and wants to meaningfully contribute to the development of universal personalized medicine.
Edward highly recommends the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley to the ABE community, he feels the book stands the test of time and still promotes interesting discourse on the topic of human gene editing and CRISPR technology. He also recommends the movie Gattaca. He says it is a great movie for the science fiction fans.Edward understands that STEM careers might not be for everyone, but everyone stands to gain something from better understanding STEM concepts. Ultimately, for the ABE labs allowed him to be a competitive candidate when applying to schools and internships.