Biologist Alexis Van Zandt
Alexis Van Zandt
Prairie View A&M University - Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Biology-chemistry2021
• Favorite Quote or Motto: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." - Maya Angelou
• Work Experience:  College Student: Graduating within 1 year 

My Story

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I am...

Alexis Van Zandt a senior, biology major/chemistry minor at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU).

I am also a proud member of "Regisford's Lab Rats", a research team led by Dr. Gloria C. Regisford at Prairie View A&M University. Our team performs in-vitro and in silico studies of uterine/endometrial cancer. Our team also analyzes and researches novel genes through bioinformatics.

I chose to be a Biologist because...

I decided to become a biology major to understand how human beings and other living organisms work. During my adolescent years, I was a very curious child. I had a question for everything and always sought an answer. I noticed that disease and infection would play a vital role in an individual's health. In my community, healthcare disparities, and the underrepresentation of minorities in the medical field existed. I was able to witness the injustice of the healthcare system. However, I grew extremely interested in healthcare when many of my own family member's lives suffered. I wanted to understand how and why disease became about. I wanted to understand why I did not see many physicians that looked like me. This led to my interest in medicine in its entirety. I believe that playing an active role in healthcare is the best way to decrease inequity and disparities within the healthcare system.

I like my job because...

I enjoy my job as a student researcher because I am introduced to a completely different world of science that I've never known. I have gained and utilized critical thinking skills. These skills have allowed me to investigate a variety of scientific topics. Research helps me understand the previous ideas of others and form my own conclusions. I am exposed to various pieces of scientific literature, equipment, and data that connects me to other concepts I am studying. Research allows me to better understand published work, determine an area of interest, and balance individual work with teamwork.

My typical day at work involves...

A typical day as a research assistant involves browsing many database websites like NCBI, GENECARDS, BLAST, and more. We read many articles and scientific journals to help us better understand the topic we are researching. For bioinformatics, research is typically conducted individually. However, there is also a ton of collaborative work with other fellow researchers on the team. Usually, during work, we write scientific papers and abstracts. I can work at my own pace and thoroughly research my particular topic or area of interest.

I want others to know...

It is normal to feel uncertain and unsure about what you want to do with your life. Your background or circumstances does not define you. You are not alone and many others feel the same way. There is no reason to rush into a career or a major. Move at your own pace and take the time to learn the things you like and dislike. Connecting with others will help you gain insight into what they do and how it has affected them. Step outside your comfort zone and try new things. I also want others to know that with time and patience comes success. Just as George Eliot once said, It's never too late to be what you've might've been.

My STEM education has helped me ...

STEM education has helped me understand various concepts. I have realized that it plays a vital role in our everyday life. Being exposed to STEM has given me opportunities to do research, learn more about STEM-related careers, and develop a passion for it. A curriculum that is STEM-based has allowed me to assess real-world situations that have taught me lessons. Thanks to my education in STEM, I have been able to discover what I am passionate about and what career I want to pursue.

This is My Story

I am 21 years old from Dallas, Texas. I was raised in a variety of areas. Growing up, as I look at my local neighborhood, I see more fast food stores than clinics. I've been aware of disparities in health and healthcare in regards to the areas that contributed to my upbringing. I became homeless in high school and partially throughout college but soon discovered when you think your situation is unfortunate, it can always become worse. I was able to see first-hand, the struggle for adequate and appropriate healthcare. Resources were scarce and many of my own family members struggled with health battles. These experiences created deep determination within me to change the inequity that occurs in the healthcare system. Although considered low points of my life, these situations help me decide that I didn't want to be another statistic. I didn't want to follow societal standards and let it predetermine where I would end up. I begin to pursue a career in the healthcare field to make a change. Determined, I started my journey by learning and becoming involved in activities that would show my interest. These activities included joining the Minority Association for Pre-health Students, Volunteering at local hospitals, attending medical school fairs, conferences, and hands-on bioskills workshops. I became a research assistant, learned to profile novel genes, write scientific papers and abstracts, and also managed to shadow physicians. I learned that we ultimately have the power to make a change, and taking action is the best way to ensure results. Due to my circumstances, the challenges I faced, and probably because of them, I have retained a unique personality and willingness to succeed. My goal is to become a physician and bring the change I wish to see.

Hobbies and interests

Tutoring science subjectsvolunteeringDanceWorking outReadingSinging

What classes have you used most?

The college courses that I've used the most is chemistry and general biology. I have used the skills gained from these courses almost every day since taking them. The skills I've acquired from these courses has been the foundation and basis needed for many of the upper-level courses required by my degree plan. These science courses gave me an introduction and understanding of life, the changes in the world, and what causes them. I also learned about the human body and the chemical and physical processes that occur. I was able to understand my body and learn more about myself. As I progress through my undergraduate career, I can connect information from different courses and understand how they correlate with one another.

What skills have been most important to your career?

Skills that have been the most important in my career that I have acquired are communication, teamwork, adaptability, and critical thinking.

Examples of Projects I've Worked On

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