PhD Candidate at University of Georgia

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Research is about being passionate about what you do. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, even from yourself.

Zahra Nawaz

What do you do?

I study the regulation of cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs), which target the degradation of thousands of cellular proteins. I specifically work on understanding the mechanism that globally alters the repertoire of SRs bound to the core complex during the cell cycle for one of the major classes of CRLs. This work has significant implications for diseases in which CRL complexes are implicated, most notably cancer and developmental defects.

Why did you choose this field?

My dad was a teacher who used to teach chemistry for a while, growing up having conversations with him, had an impact on loving sciences. I was always fascinated by how organisms function, I believed understanding it at a molecular level would allow me to find answers for many unknown questions. This passion drove me towards research. As an undergraduate, I envisioned studying cell cycle regulation, as I was aware that deregulated cell-cycle control is a fundamental aspect of cancer. Hence, I wanted to understand the biology of cell division and unravel novel pathways that can be targeted for developing therapeutic strategies to treat cancer.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I was always enthralled learning about novel discoveries and contributions scientists made to the world. I never envisioned myself getting into a PhD program in an renowned institution and to be in such a role. I would have told my younger self, that anything is possible if you set your mind at!

Why do you love working in STEM?

The curiosity to unravel the unknown is what keeps me going!

Best advice for next generation?

Research is about being passionate about what you do. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, even from yourself. Taking risks is part of research and failures are inevitable. Hence you should really love what you do so you can achieve or unravel the mysteries.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“I care and I dare.”

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