Thusna Gardiyehewa

BBS 2018

My favorite YYGS memory was the Science & Engineering Tour at Iwasaki Lab. I really enjoyed going into the lab and seeing how different machines work to collect data from various samples.

Attending YYGS has given me invaluable experiences and knowledge that have greatly enhanced my academic perspective. I attended the BBS (Biological and Biomedical Sciences) session, which solidified my passion for science - specifically biomedical research. I have been interested in science all my life, and this program has allowed me to confidently say what field I want to go into in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed all the lectures and seminars I attended; and meeting with some of the lecturers afterward at lunch to ask any further questions I had and continue the discussion.

One topic of study that I was able to explore the most was oncology. Cancer has always been of interest to me. It is a disease that has hit quite close to home for me, as several of my family members have suffered from it. I want to research cancer in the future and join the many others that are striving to find a cure. This lifelong goal really became apparent to me while I was at YYGS.

Upon arriving home from the program, I decided that I wanted to gain more in-depth experience by immersing myself in a laboratory environment and dedicating some of my time into an internship. I was doing research online one day, and came across an article about a discovery made on how acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells enter the central nervous system. This discovery was made by Dr. Dorothy Sipkins from the Duke Cancer Institute. I was very intrigued by this and reached out to the Sipkins lab, which is part of the Division of Hematological Malignancies and Cellular Therapy at the Duke University Medical Center. Since contacting supervisors at the lab, I have worked with Dr. Sipkins and her assistants to fill out paperwork and plan out the logistics of my internship. I recently visited the laboratory site and took a tour around. Starting in August, I will be observing one of Dr. Sipkins’ postdoctoral researchers for the first semester of the school year.

I am very excited about this opportunity, and cannot wait to begin the internship! YYGS has furthered my passion to follow through with a future in this field. It has led me to take the initiative to pursue this internship. I am dedicated to researching cancer, and possibly making future discoveries that could lead to finding a cure.

Ambassador Year: