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Following Dreams

"Microbiologist Dana Curley"

Taylor: First, tell me exactly what a Microbiologist does.

Dana: A microbiologist is interested in studying things that are very, very small. So you have to use a microscope in order to look at them. I mainly do cellular stuff now, which is taking care of cells.

Looking at cells through a microscope.

Taylor: What are you working on right now?

Dana: I make sure that everyone in Dr. Ryan’s lab has cells to work with. I get the cells and make them go down the path to becoming mast cells.

Taylor:  Where did you go to school and what did you study?

Dana: I went to James Madison University.  I started out as a business major because my dad wanted me to be an international business person, but I hated it. I switched to biology and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in French.  Then I went to what they used to call Medical College of Virginia, but it’s now Virginia Commonwealth University.  I was there for five years and I got my P. H. D. in Microbiology.

Preparing cells in the lab for other Microbiologists’ to work with.

Taylor:  Around the age of twelve, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Dana:  I wanted to be a teacher. I used to play teacher all the time with my chalkboard. In some ways I am doing that because I teach several classes here.

Taylor:  What got you interested in what you do now?

Dana: I always liked science. I can remember my 5th grade science teacher always saying that I was a nature girl. Also, my step-dad had a degree in biology.

Cells are stored in these containers.

Taylor: Who would you say were your mentors?

Dana: My parents were my biggest cheerleaders. As far as mentors, I would say my step-dad and my teacher Miss Borkey.

Taylor: What were some of your hobbies when you were growing up?

Dana: I wasn’t very athletic, but I did like to ride horses. I just tried to play and have fun! I played Barbies up until I was 13 or 14.  I liked to read and just do things with my friends and my family.

Taylor: Were there any fears that you had to overcome?

Dana: I did have low self-esteem, and I think I still have that in me. My parents divorced when I was really young and that was just a really tough time. They tried to build me up, but with all those things going on in my life, I had to grow up a little bit faster.

Taylor: If there are any girls out there that might want to become microbiologists when they grow up, what advice and what studies would you recommend?

Dana: If you have an interest in science when you’re younger or going into college, you should definitely work with someone doing some sort of research in microbiology. Also, you really have to want it, because it’s very demanding.

Cell material is stored at -80 degrees. That's Cool!

Taylor: You are going to speak to girls everywhere, so what would you like to say to them?

Dana: Don’t let anybody tell you what you need to do, but make sure you go after the opportunities that are thrown at you!



Click to play a "shout out" from Dana.




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