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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Brendan Farhi

New York

Major in Biology

Brendan is a biology honors student engaged in research, which allows for growth opportunities.

Brendan Farhi

What major are you studying and why did you choose it? 

I am a biology major. Ever since I was much younger, I have always been curious about the way the world works. The natural world has always appealed to me and I love learning about the different aspects of life. I find the subject fascinating and I want to work on things that I am passionate about.

Biology is something that excites me and keeps me coming back for more. The thirst to seek knowledge about the natural world and to do what thrills me is probably why I decided to work in this area. Now that I am working on my Honors project, I know that I took the right path for me. 

Could you describe your research project and your experience in the lab? 

My research is about better characterizing and understanding the ciliated protozoan Stentor coeruleus in Assistant Professor of Biology Mark Slabodnick’s lab. I am currently working with RNA interference technology to understand the role of pigment proteins in the Stentor’s phototropic response. Essentially, I am working with microorganisms and have the opportunity to learn new techniques and skills that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to learn.

I have to say, working in the laboratory for full credit is exhausting. It can also be terrifying because, in the scientific world, if you make one mistake, you can be set back for days. But at the same time, it is exciting as you get to watch these single-celled organisms respond to different conditions, and as your project progresses, you can see all the hard work come to fruition. Moreover, I think this also gave me a preview of what grad school would be like. Since this is the next step in my education, I think it adds valuable experience and I have gained insight into research life. 

How else do you think Knox has helped prepare you for grad school and research life?

I think the way the classes at Knox are structured in general has helped me form a strong foundation in terms of research. The classes are more application based than they are memory based. This forces you to think about what you are doing, rather than simply following directions. I remember in Professor of Biology Matt Jones-Rhoades’ class, he tried to get the information out of us instead of telling us how something works. This way we investigated our own natural curiosity and I tapped into the potential that I did not know I had.

Additionally, the biology classes allow you to have more open-ended research experiences. There is no fixed research project and that way you can dip your feet in different waters and discover what you love. I am also a Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) tutor and a teacher’s assistant for Professor of Psychology Frank McAndrew’s lab this term. My ultimate goal is to be a professor at a university while carrying out my own research. I think both these experiences give me a slight insight into the life of a professor and help me build fundamental skills to teach students what I love. 

What are some resources that have helped you, or you know have helped other students in their journey at Knox? 

I would definitely recommend attending the Writer’s Workshop, especially if you are a first-year with little writing experience. It is a great way to review essays and improve the quality of your writing. I think CTL tutoring is also very beneficial if you are falling behind with your classes, or you just need help reviewing the material. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’d be surprised to see how many people would be willing to help if only you asked for it—be it upperclassmen or faculty members.

I would also say make use of the health services at Knox. It is important to make sure that you are mentally healthy and strong to take on the course load. If you are a first-year, this is also a transitioning phase and so having that extra support makes the process smoother. Besides, it’s free. Make the best use of these resources because they will make your life a whole lot easier. 

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Printed on Sunday, July 14, 2024