Cultivating curiosity

Sean Burgess and Tomas Rodriguez

Sean Burgess and Tomas Rodriguez

Tomas Rodriguez is an undergraduate student in biochemistry and molecular biology. At UC Davis, he studied in the Burgess Lab under genetics professor Sean Burgess and took her freshman seminar class last year, "You and Your Genome.” Over the winter break Rodriguez read the entire genome textbook and started his own research project, Burgess said. “He set up our microscope for 3D fluorescence live-cell imaging and started mentoring a cadre of high school students in conducting research.” Rodriguez has gone on to earn a prestigious “B-SHARP” fellowship funded by National Institutes of Health, among others.

Why is UC Davis the one for you? Sean Burgess: “The strength and breadth of research on chromosome biology at UC Davis is unparalleled in the U.S. and perhaps the world.”

What is the best experience you have had here that you could share with us — something that happened to you uniquely because of your ties to UC Davis? “It is an experience that happens again and again. I have had opportunities to get to know and work with some truly outstanding individuals on campus. These are ties that enrich my life and make me love my job.”

What do you hope to be your legacy here at UC Davis — what marks have you made or changes that you hope will continue? “I hope that through my demonstrated enthusiasm for genetics, my students will maintain and share their curiosity about science through life-long learning and critical thinking.”

Tell us about one person at UC Davis who has enhanced your life or your work? “I would have to say there are two — Professors JoAnne Engebrecht and Dan Starr. While each of us run our own research programs, we share one large integrated laboratory space. This unusual arrangement promotes interaction and collaboration between our students, postdocs and research specialists. It drives our science forward and provides a strong sense of community. So, we have named our lab "the BESt Lab" (Burgess-Engebrecht-Starr).”