Olivia Mikula

Research the expression, function, and evolution of a protein family using the gene sequences of a sea anemone
Student, Biology
Tell us a little about yourself and your research project

I am currently a sophomore working towards a chemistry degree with a minor in earth science. I enjoy plants, aquariums, and scuba diving. These interests led me to pursue research in biology. I am working with Dr. Reitzel to research the expression, function, and evolution of a protein family using the gene sequences of a sea anemone.

How did you first find out about undergraduate research opportunities at UNC Charlotte?

I first learned about research when a professor mentioned a summer program he was participating in. This encouraged me to find more information about research programs for undergraduates. I attended a career center meet-up hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research where I learned about numerous research opportunities.

How has your research experience prepared you for your next goals or career?

As an underclassman, it can be difficult to know which path leads to success. My research experience has given me insight into what my next goals are by providing information about other opportunities such as honors college, fellowships, and research conferences.

What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing undergraduate research and what would you say to a student who says, "research is not for me"?

I would like to encourage anyone who is interested in research to be brave by reaching out to professors and applying for programs! The idea of starting research can sound daunting to many students, but once you find a project that excites you, it is a very rewarding experience.

What is one thing that you learned about yourself from this research experience?

This experience has taught me that I can accomplish anything if I put in my best effort. I faced challenges such as giving presentations, using Linux and writing my first research paper. Research has given me more confidence in my professional abilities.