Undergraduate Research Program

Gillian Pereira

Major:Materials Science and Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Miqin Zhang (Materials Science and Engineering)


Current research project: CHA Cancer Drug Screening Platform


Gillian is an senior this year, graduating in Spring 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering. She is currently assisting a graduate student in Dr. Zhang’s lab doing research on creating chitosan-hyaluronic acid scaffolds to be used as a cancer drug screening platform. In the past, she was also involved in a project related to studying how COVID-19 affects pharmacies all over Washington. For her personal interests, Gillian enjoys going to concerts, hiking, and playing the piano.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The goal of this research project is to find an optimal platform for cancer high-throughput drug screening using Glioblastoma (GBM) cell lines. Glioblastoma is a type of brain tumor that stems from glial cells in the brain. It is one of the most common and aggressive brain tumors in adults, and the median survival time is 15 months after diagnosis. There is a need to develop a new tool to model GBM tumor progression and mimic in-vivo tumor microenvironments to be used as a drug screening platform.



When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research by emailing my PI a cover letter and my resume. We met over Zoom and discussed my interest in her research before I was accepted into her research group as an undergraduate assistant. I really wanted to get involved in undergraduate research to apply concepts and knowledge that I have learned in school outside of the classroom. I am also considering going to graduate school, so being involved in undergraduate research helps me cement my interests. Another reason why I got involved in undergraduate research is to carry out a senior research project, which is a graduation requirement for my major.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t be afraid to start cold emailing! Make sure you have your resume and cover letter ready and then start emailing them to professors that you are interested in doing research with. You might not always get a response, but that is perfectly normal. All it takes is one reply to get your foot in the door! Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to current undergraduates or alum from the lab you are interested in. Talking to someone who has done research there can give you a look into what kinds of tasks you might be doing, and if this particular lab will be a good fit for you.