University of California, Davis
Thesis: Understanding the structure and function of the synaptonemal complex in Drosophila melanogaster females
It was love at first sight. After spending many summers working at her father’s animal clinic, Cori Cahoon was on the fast track to continue the family tradition and become a veterinarian until her first genetics class at the University of California, Davis, threw her off course. Fascinated by the ever-present influence of genes on all aspects of life, Cahoon changed plans and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in genetics.
As an undergraduate, Cahoon worked in a lab studying the mustard weed Arabidopsis, the lab rat of plant biologists. But before she took the grad school plunge, she wanted to make sure that full-time, hands-on research actually resembled the glorified pursuit portrayed in books and memoirs. So after college she took a position as a research technician at UC Davis. There she found herself on what she describes as an exhilarating roller coaster ride, where the disappointment of failed experiments and the excitement of unexpected discoveries chase each other in quick succession. That “dry run” as a bench scientist convinced Cahoon that she was ready to embark on a research career.
Along the way she has discovered that scientists and veterinarians have more in common than lab coats: Each tries to solve a puzzle by collecting small pieces of information and putting them together, whether to understand a fundamental biological principle or what’s ailing a dog.