What Is A Reedie, Anyway?

Rose Driscoll ’17

Investigated the factors that govern whether Cichlid fish become male or female. Also learned to read Middle English.

August 29, 2017

Hometown: Davis, California

Adviser: Prof. Suzy Renn [biology 2006-]

Major: Biology (with concentration in literature)

Thesis: “Epigenetic Regulation of Aromatase Underlies Environmental Sex Determination in the Cichlid Fish Pelvicachromis pulcher

What it’s about: In the fish species I’m studying, the pH conditions an individual is raised in determine whether it becomes male or female. Nothing is known about how this happens, so I’m looking at whether a mechanism involved in temperature sex determination (aromatase gene methylation) is also involved in pH sex determination.

What it’s really about: Epigenetics means that early life experiences have long-term impacts!

Who I was when I got to Reed: I adored conference, but was terrible at it. When my Hum professor told me I was monopolizing the conversation, we brainstormed about ways to let other people take a turn. When I had an idea I wanted to share, I would write it down in a notebook. By my sophomore year, I was taking notes not on what I was thinking, but what other people were saying. I got a lot out of conference when I paid attention to what other people were saying, rather than what I had to contribute.

Influential book and class: The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, was the subject of a class I took with Prof. Michael Faletra [English 2001–]. I was amazed by how little people and society have changed since the Middle Ages. Chaucer has a ton of fourth-grade humor, like fart jokes. Medieval people laughed at the same things we laugh at now.

Cool stuff: I tutored an at-risk high school student, learned the Carolingian hand at Scriptorium, and learned how to read and pronounce Middle English. I took a Brazilian jiu-jitsu PE class and started a ScienceChat group to get people from different majors together to talk about cool science.

How Reed changed me: I came in thinking I was a humanities person, but learned I was a scientist.

Word to prospies: I thought science was the last thing I would do and tried to get my science requirement out of the way. But I got super into Prof. Suzy Renn’s biology class, and she said, “Rose, you should be a bio major.” The next day, she emailed me a schedule of how I could complete a bio major in the next two years. When I still hesitated, she said, “How about you come and work in my lab this summer and decide in the fall?” Throw yourself into everything, because you may think you know what you want but discover something completely different.

Financial aid: I received the Help Out a Reedie, David Eddings, and Betty Gray scholarships, and was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a President’s Summer Fellowship, an Opportunity Grant, and a Biology Undergraduate Student Travel Award.

What’s next: I have a postbac in Suzy Renn’s lab. I’m expanding on my thesis—hopefully to get it published! After that, I’ll be applying to grad school.