Story in the College of Arts & Sciences
Deborah Thurtle '08
Research in the lab to better biofuels inspires confidence in biology major for graduate school research.
Though she knew the work would be challenging, Deborah Thurtle felt well prepared starting her doctoral studies in molecular cell biology at UC Berkeley--because she gained a solid background in research and excellent lab skills from her time as an undergraduate at Santa Clara.
As a biology major, with a minor in chemistry and biotechnology, Thurtle worked with Associate Biology Professor Craig Stephens researching a bacteria called Caulobacter crescentus. The bacteria can break down plant cellulose—something that could be very useful for future biofuel technology.
Thurtle's efforts in the lab were focused on analyzing the genes that regulate the bacteria's metabolism. "I like the problem-solving aspects of research, figuring out answers to questions that haven't been asked before," she says. "I had thought coming in as a freshman that I wanted to do research. This experience helped me solidify that."
And the experience gave her confidence. "From this, I knew I could go into a lab and figure out the problem and execute the solution. This helped me not feel intimidated about going into grad school," she says.