Isabella Lydia Ann Schember

Isabella Lydia Ann Schember chose the doctoral progam in biochemistry at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for its diverse research opportunities.

Diverse Research Opportunities Appealing

Michigan native Isabella Lydia Ann Schember is a trainee in the doctoral program in biochemistry.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree in forensic chemistry from Marshall University before coming to Buffalo.

What are your main areas of research?

I study gene regulation, in which genes are turned “on” or “off” at any given time, in various insects. I’m interested in what has evolved, or changed, in the development of the nervous system between the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the dengue, Zika, and yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti.

What led you to choose the doctoral program in biochemistry?

I always enjoyed my research classes most during my undergraduate studies and when I was getting my master’s degree, I realized that I wanted to get more research experience. After earning two degrees in chemistry, I was interested in looking more at biological processes, which made the transition to biochemistry easy. The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences was an attractive graduate school to me because of its noncompetitive nature and diverse research opportunities.

What is it like working with your mentor, Marc Halfon, PhD?

I always tell people that if I didn't have as supportive of an advisor as Marc Halfon, I probably wouldn't still be in graduate school. He is easy to work with and is encouraging when impostor syndrome rears its head. While working on the manuscript we submitted, Marc provided constructive feedback on parts that weren’t clear, and he helped me feel more confident in my scientific writing.

How has your time at the Jacobs School prepared you for your eventual career goals?

My goal is to conduct research and development at a company focused on biomedical research. During my time at the Jacobs School, I have learned what it means to be an independent scientist and have learned to ask questions to help me better understand what I’m doing.