Aug 17, 2021
Indya Weathers
Former undergraduate researcher Indya Weathers '19 (Biochemistry, Chanfreau group) is featured on Undergraduate Research Center–Sciences' Student Spotlight.   
 
Weathers was recognized by the UCLA/URC-Sciences for her first author publication in STAR Protocols titled “Protocol for High-Resolution Mapping of Splicing Products and Isoforms by RT-PCR Using Fluorescently Labeled Primers”, which is based on her undergraduate research she conducted in Professor Guillaume Chanfreau’s lab. Weathers joined the Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics graduate program at the University of Chicago last year. 
 
 
 
Meet Indya Weathers, a UCLA graduate who majored in Biochemistry. Indya was recently published as first author for her undergraduate research conducted in Dr. Guillaume Chanfreau’s lab in the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. “Protocol for High-Resolution Mapping of Splicing Products and Isoforms by RT-PCR Using Fluorescently Labeled Primers” is published in STAR Protocols. 
 
Indya is now a PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at the University of Chicago.
 
During her undergraduate years, Indya was a part of our CARE Fellows/IMSD program.
 
How did you first get involved in your research at UCLA?
During my transition from community college to UCLA, I applied to the Minority Science Bridges to the Baccalaureate program at the University of California, Irvine. I worked with the faculty. postdocs, and graduate students to learn how to conduct a research project and perform lab experiments. I was invited to present this research at the ABRCMS 2017 National Undergraduate Research Conference where I met scientists and other students interested in biomedical science. My desire for scientific research grew and I decided to join a lab once I transferred to UCLA. During my first year, I applied for and was accepted into the IMSD program funded by the NIH to conduct my own independent project in the lab of Dr. Guillaume Chanfreau. Through the support of my graduate student mentor, Charles Wang, the mentorship of my PI, and the resources provided to me by Dr. Tama Hasson through the IMSD program, I was able to present my work at various research conferences and gain experiences that prepared me for success in my future research career.
 
How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?
My research experience at UCLA was incredible due to the constant support of the URC Sciences department, the resources provided by the IMSD program, and the mentorship of my PI Dr.Guillaume Chanfreau. I was able to work with mentors and successful underrepresented STEM professionals to gain skills in research, presentations, and leadership which helped me prepare for graduate school as well as my future in research as an underrepresented female in science. I was able to present my research at UCLA Undergraduate Research Symposiums to incoming freshmen in programs for underrepresented students in order to inform and inspire them to pursue research in their careers. I was also able to present at the ABRCMS National Undergraduate Research Conference three years in a row on my projects that I was researching. From this work, I was able to publish my first author research paper which was my biggest accomplishment as an undergraduate because it recognized my hard work and potential to become a successful professional in the field. Overall, research at UCLA was one of the most exciting times in my life and set up a foundation for me to excel in my future career.
 
What is one piece of advice you have for other students thinking about getting involved in research?
There is no such thing as too early or too late to get involved in research at UCLA. The URC Sciences department provides so many resources available that will guide and support you to find the right faculty and students to mentor you. No matter how much prior experience you have had in research, the professors and students will help you learn the concepts that they are studying, many lab techniques, and the skills necessary to become a successful future scientist.
 
What are your future career goals?
I am interested in many potential careers including academia, industry, and other alternative careers in science. In my future career, I want to provide mentorship to underrepresented groups and provide new ways of increasing diversity and inclusion. Not only do I want to become a leader in the field of research, but also an inspiration, resource, and opportunity for people interested in research to have increased accessibility.
 
What are you doing post-graduation from UCLA?
Currently, I am a rising 2nd year PhD student in the department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at the University of Chicago. I will soon begin my thesis work studying 3-dimensional protein structures, their dynamics, and their functions. I plan to become a leader among my peers in providing broader access to research resources to underrepresented groups in science. I am excited to contribute to broadening the field of knowledge in the biological sciences and make it available and accessible to a diverse group of students.
 
------------------------------------
 
Penny Jennings, UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu