What Is A Reedie, Anyway?

Daniel Dashevsky

Biology

September 1, 2014

Hometown: Fairbanks, Alaska

Adviser: Prof. Todd Schlenke [biology 2013–]

Thesis: “Virus-Like Particles in the Venom of Parasitoid Wasps”

What it’s about: I’m looking at the venom of parasitoid wasps, which lay their eggs in fly larvae. They’re called parasitoids rather than parasites, because they actually kill their host. Protein structures called virus-like particles inhibit the host’s immune response by killing certain blood cells. I am using high-throughput transcriptomics and proteomics to analyze the composition and function of the virus-like particles. After the wasp egg hatches out into a larva, it eats the pupating fly larva, uses the pupa to metamorphose into an adult wasp, and the cycle continues. It’s like the movie Alien.

What my thesis is really about: Parasites are really good at being awful to their hosts.

Who I was when I got to Reed: In high school I was a gamer and a nerd. Reinventing myself when I got here was one of the parts of college I was most excited about. I realized I could go to the gym and enjoy playing sports without losing my nerd cred or whatever I had been afraid of before.

How Reed changed me: Aside from the obvious academic skills, I’m far more empathetic than I was before I got here and also more socially and culturally aware.

Influential professor: I got summer research grants to go to Baja and Arizona with Prof. Sarah Schaack [biology 2011–] to catch rattlesnakes from which she extracts DNA. You grab the snakes with long tongs. It depends on the snake as to whether they’re angry as hell; they have different personalities. More than just a mentor, Sarah’s become a colleague and a great friend.

Favorite spot: The spot with the best memories for me is the Great Lawn where the Frisbee teams goof around together on sunny Friday afternoons.

Cool stuff I did: Going to Nationals with the Ultimate [Frisbee] team, leading Orientation Odysseys to Mount Adams, being a senior operator at the nuclear reactor, participating in great traditions like Renn Fayre, and fighting over the
Doyle Owl.

What’s next: Probably grad school, but I want some perspective to make sure that’s what I want to do. I really enjoyed rattlesnake research with Sarah and am looking into options. First off, however, a motorcycle ride across the country.

Something I would tell prospies: You’re smart, you got into Reed, you can handle more than three classes your first semester. But don’t do it. That is when you make friends, figure out what you like, and get settled into Portland. There’s plenty of time to push yourself academically.