Building a Strong Future in STEM

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Kanishga Balamurrugarajan always pictured herself attending college in a big city to take advantage of the diverse career opportunities. She was particularly drawn to Illinois Institute of Technology because, in addition to its convenient urban setting, the former College of Science offered bioinformatics courses at the undergraduate level, unlike other schools she had considered.

Kanishga shares, “I wanted to pursue a degree in bioinformatics because I was interested in how well-rounded this field was. In bioinformatics, I study subjects in various fields such as mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, and physics, and many other interesting topics.” She adds, “I felt that if I received a degree in bioinformatics, I would be able to receive many more job opportunities because I’d have a solid base in the main STEM areas.”

As part of her RES-MATCH project for spring 2020, Kanishga worked with Mudassir Rashid, senior research associate and part-time instructor in Armour College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, to create a working mathematical model of the effects of dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) inhibitors—a new class of oral diabetes drug—on type 2 diabetes.

“I was interested in RES-MATCH because I wanted to conduct research, but I did not know how to approach my professors or what type of research I wanted to do,” says Kanishga. “This match gave me a direction in which to proceed and even provided me with different choices of research to choose from.”

Kanishga says that access to these types of research opportunities will help her gain valuable experience and to better understand her field of study. She adds, “My future plan includes pursuing a Ph.D. in pharmacology and to eventually start working on drug development.”

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