Michigan State University
Thesis: Characterizing the roles Hox genes play in the gene regulatory network (GRN) controlling mouse cranial neural crest cell formation, migration, and differentiation
Irina Pushel credits her parents, who moved her family from Belarus to the United States when she was 6 years old, for setting her on a scientific path.
Pushel took advantage of her schools’ enriched academic offerings and competed in Science Olympiad, a national science competition, throughout middle and high school, fueling her burgeoning interest in science. She developed a passion for research as a high school student at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and chose to continue her education at Michigan State University because the institution allowed her to conduct research in her freshman year.
While at Michigan State, Pushel earned a BS in biochemistry and molecular biology/biotechnology. She investigated gene expression in Drosophila in the laboratory of David Arnosti, PhD, earning a national award for her conference poster on how mutations in the retinoblastoma protein of fruit flies alter gene expression. Her study’s findings have implications for understanding the role of these proteins in human cancers.
Pushel gained additional research experience in Germany and Switzerland and studied abroad in New Zealand and Antarctica.A strong believer in the importance of basic research, Pushel chose the Stowers Institute because of its community of individuals committed to the same goal. After graduate school she plans on a career in molecular biology research.