Danae Schulz spent her summer doing genetic research in a
biology laboratory and now knows for certain what she wants
to do when she graduates.
Schulz is Tufts' first Carpenter Fellow, an undergraduate
chosen to do research and work with a professor for a
10-week period. The program is named for former biology
professor Russell Carpenter, A24, and was endowed by his
two children, Dr. Cynthia McFadden and Dr. Russell F. Carpenter.
Their father, known as Bud, was a member of the biology
department from 1938 to 1969. He died in 1991 at the age of 89.
Schulz was chosen out of 20 applicants to work in the lab of
Catherine Freudenreich, assistant professor of biology.
Schulz said after she graduates, she will apply to graduate
school and hopes to continue studying biology and become a
researcher. "When you just take classes, it's hard to know if
the life of a researcher is for you," she said. "The summer
project was key in helping me decide that this will be
my career path."
Schulz, who is from Arizona, is in the fourth year of a five-year
degree program and will graduate with a B.S. in biology and a
B.M. in violin performance, which she is studying at the New
England Conservatory under a joint program with Tufts. During
the summer, after spending her days in the lab, Schulz would
practice the violin for a few hours each evening. Before she
graduates, Schulz will have completed a senior project and will
also perform a senior recital.
Schulz called the fellowship "invaluable," not only because it
helped her decide that she wants to be a researcher, but
because "I had the opportunity to work closely with a
professor active in the field…I learned how to do all sorts of
different procedures and learned many lab techniques. I also
had the privilege of getting to know the others in my lab and
thus benefit from their knowledge and experience."
For her part, Freudenreich said she enjoyed having Schulz in
her lab and noted that the summer is an especially good time
for students to do research because they are not distracted
by a full schedule of classes. "Having an undergraduate work
on a project is integral to my research," she said, speaking of
Schulz and other students who have worked with her. "They
can work at the level of graduate students, and I have had
significant contributions from undergraduates. It's fun for me
to see their enthusiasm and to help to spark it."
Schulz worked with Freudenreich on a project that is in the
second year of funding under a five-year, $1 million grant from
the National Institutes of Health. Freudenreich's laboratory is
using yeast to study human genetic disease. In particular,
Freudenreich is looking at repetitive DNA sequences that can
expand to cause at least 14 inherited diseases, including
Huntington's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder, and
Fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited mental
retardation. She uses yeast because researchers know the
sequence of its genome and because it is relatively easy to
One characteristic of the kind of repeats Freudenreich is
studying is that the chromosome breaks more frequently at
regions containing the repeated sequence. Her lab is studying
the basis for chromosome fragility and its implications for cell
growth and survival.
Freudenreich said usually only a small percentage of students
find the time to do lab work. "Students give it a try and find it
rewarding, and a few find they really love it and do it semester
after semester. Some may go to medical school and not do
research as a career, but this will help them evaluate research
when they are reading about it later. It's always especially
rewarding when someone loves it and wants to make it their