Sarah Sullivan | 2018 Goldwater Scholar
I was awarded the Goldwater scholarship for research projects I worked on at both the University of Tulsa and at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. At the University of Tulsa I worked on characterizing a recently identified metabolic role of the tumor suppressor protein p27kip1, which is commonly deregulated in aggressive cancers. My work at Johannes Gutenberg University focused on developing a system of expression and purification for the unique domain of the Leishmania protein, LmABCB3, whose structure may potentially be therapeutically relevant in the treatment of Leishmaniasis.
From a young age I was drawn to science, but my interest in research profoundly grew when I was diagnosed with type one diabetes at fourteen years old. As a type one diabetic, I have an inexpressible respect for the effect that research has on the world. Without Banting, Best, and every single researcher who has contributed to and the development of exogenous insulin and diabetes management technologies, I would not be alive today, and watching the constant evolution of both diabetes management technologies and understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying the disease gives me hope for the future.
My gratitude and respect for research motivates me to contribute to the body of knowledge that has given me so much. However the path to that contribution is not always so clear. I began my first research project after my freshman year of college, and it was unlike anything I had ever done before. In so much of our academic lives we are asked to follow a prescribed formula or memorize a set of information, but in research there is no formula and no know answers. Research is incredibly rewarding, but at times it can frustrating and confusing. The Goldwater scholarship application process was the first time I had to articulate the reason I really wanted to do research, as well as the path I wanted to follow. The application process led me to explore me to explore many areas of research and helped me reaffirm my interest and passion for the scientific community. Receiving the Goldwater scholarship gave me confidence as a young scientist to know that it is possible for me to pursue that path.