Ambassador Spotlight: Michelle Engle

Oct 26, 2017

By Temperance Rowell

Michelle Engle is a fifth-year graduate student in the curriculum of Genetics and Molecular Biology at UNC Chapel Hill where she works in the laboratory of Claire Doerschuk. Michelle studies the lung, trying to understand how it responds to cigarette smoke by changing the expression of different genes. Specifically, she is interested in figuring out which genes are turned on and off in white blood cells, the cells that govern immune responses.

Courtesy of Michelle Engle

Michelle’s favorite part of her research is trying to collect many different pieces of information from her experiments and piecing them together to understand the bigger picture. She joined the CONNECT program to teach high school students the same approach in understanding the science behind everyday observations. “There is so much science in the world around us, and most people don’t take the time to notice, appreciate, or understand it.”

Michelle became interested in science herself in high school. In a biology class, she learned about carbohydrates and how every single atom in carbohydrates had a purpose in the Kreb’s cycle to eventually provide energy to our bodies. It was then that she realized that everything in nature has a purpose and when we think something is useless, it is most likely because we don’t know enough about it to see its worth. This fascination has kept her studying biology ever since and she hopes to impart this love of learning and understanding the big picture to other students.

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While her career plans are still uncertain, Michelle spends her time away from the laboratory bench playing board games with her friends and watching superhero movies. She also had the opportunity to travel to Alaska last summer while on vacation.