Seth Lyon is a third-year biochemistry major from Marion, Ohio. His research project involving RNAs won first place at the 2017 Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. Biochemistry Professor Venkat Gopalan is his research advisor.
Can you explain the essence of your project?
RNAs are chains of four repeating building blocks that are most commonly associated as cellular machinery that are essential for protein synthesis. For an RNA to perform its job in a cell, it must first be properly folded into its most active form, and chemical probes such as fluorophores are commonly used to study these RNA structures. Unfortunately, incorporating chemical probes into RNAs is a challenging process. My project sought to address this challenge, so I have been working on optimizing the introduction of these chemical probes through in vitro transcription – a method that uses an enzyme to synthesize RNA.
How did you get interested in biochemistry?
I have always found biology interesting, so when I began at Ohio State it seemed like the right major for me. Although, during my sophomore year I found that I really enjoyed my organic chemistry courses, so I decided I to change my major to biochemistry. However, it wasn’t until I joined my current lab that I really found biochemistry so interesting. To perform experiments like the ones that we read about in textbooks and get tested on in our classes has contributed so much to my understanding and love for biology.
Why did you come to Ohio State?
I have always loved Columbus and I didn’t want to live somewhere too far away home, so I thought Ohio State would be the perfect choice!
Who are your role models?
My mom because she has always been there for me and supportive throughout my entire life. Dr. Gopalan because he is always willing to help and offer guidance to everybody in my research group.
What are your after-graduation plans?
I will be attending graduate school where I would like to study computational biology, although I am not yet sure where I would like to study.
Any other awards, honors or activities you’d like to mention?
I am staying an extra year at Ohio State to finish a minor in computer and informational science and continue research. I was awarded a Research Experience for Undergraduates fellowship at Ohio State last summer.