Spotlight: An Luong

SURJ: Tell us about the project you are working on.

An: I’m currently working with cancer stem cells and analyzing the role that microRNAs have in tumorigenesis, particularly for breast cancers. Specifically, I am altering the expression of certain genes and documenting the results in vitro as well as in vivo.

SURJ: What made you get into this?

An: In high school, I first learned of stem cells and their capabilities in my AP Biology class. Ever since, I have been fascinated by the topic. The possibilities and benefits that they can offer are almost boundless. So going into college, I knew that I would want to work with stem cells. Hopefully, I would also like to contribute some sort of discovery to this growing field.

SURJ: What are some challenges you have encountered and how did you overcome them?

An: It has been particularly difficult devoting the time necessary to conduct successful biological research. Because the samples that I work with are living organisms, all of my tasks are very time-sensitive. During this past summer, I had to sometimes bike to the lab at midnight to finish experiments. I overcome these challenges by reminding myself that I have been given the unique and amazing opportunity to work at a fantastic research institution. A little less sleep here and there is a small price to pay for the experience that I am getting.

SURJ: What other topics would you like to conduct research on?

 An: I am currently interested in expanding my research to include a bioinformatics approach. I think there could be some very interesting insights that would result with this approach. I would definitely have to work with a lot more data though!

SURJ: Any tips for fellow students who want to get into research?

An: Just reach out via email. I found my position through email. During winter break of my freshman year, I Googled research topics that I was interested in. For example, I searched “stem cells” and “cancer,” and my PI came up as the first entry. After reaching out to them electronically, try to set up a personal meeting with them. It shows that you’re serious about your research.


An Luong is a sophomore from Texas. 

Interviewer: James Nie