Graduation 2021: Amy Webster, PhD Genetics and Genomics

Monday, May 10, 2021
Name: Amy Webster
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Degree: PhD in Genetics and Genomics
Lab: Ryan Baugh
What are your research interests and ultimate career goals?
Broadly, I am interested in understanding how genetic and environmental variation shape phenotypic variation across different timescales. During my PhD, I focused on uncovering genetic and epigenetic regulation of a biomedically-relevant trait, starvation resistance, in the nematode C. elegans. Moving forward, I plan to develop projects to understand how gene regulation and epigenetic inheritance influence evolutionary trajectories. Ultimately, I hope to run a research lab to continue exploring these questions.
What inspired you to pursue graduate school at Duke?
During my interview weekend, I had great conversations with both faculty and current graduate students that helped me envision myself at Duke. The University Program in Genetics and Genomics was ideal in offering both specificity, as a genetics program with relatively few students, and flexibility, as it spans both Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine. The affordability of Durham and the proximity to family and friends in Georgia made Duke an ideal place to spend my graduate school years!
What is your favorite memory from graduate school at Duke?
I really enjoyed going to conferences with my lab mates. It’s always inspiring to hear about the innovative research being done by other scientists from around the world and have the opportunity to interact at both scientific and social events.
How do you hope to make an impact with your research?
Research in C. elegans affords me the opportunity to effectively control both genetic and environmental variation and perform extremely high-throughput experiments with whole animals. I am excited about the possibility of discovering more context-dependent effects on important phenotypes that could only be uncovered using such a system. As we’ve seen with CRISPR systems and coronaviruses, it is often unclear what scientific discoveries will be the most crucial down the road. I thus hope to inspire any future scientists I help train to follow their curiosity to answer fundamental questions about biological systems.

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