Junior Biology Major on Work-Study Job as Junior Lab Assistant

October 10, 2018
Brandon Tran Biology Major
  • Brandon '20

My name is Brandon Tran, and I am a junior B.S. Biology major. Attending Marymount Manhattan College (MMC), a predominantly liberal arts college, as a B.S. Biology major is a very unique experience. I participate in many different extracurricular activities, such as the science society and pre-med club, and I conduct research alongside Dr. Ann Aguanno and my colleague Julia Furnari. The research which we conduct has taken us to different undergraduate science conferences and symposiums. Our biggest and most exciting conference has been the ASBMB annual meeting in San Diego, California; here we competed in the undergraduate post competition, in which we showcased our work. Further, one of my favorite things that I do at Marymount is work as a work-study student.


In my work-study position, I work with the new Lab Supervisor, Elizabeth Thompson. Ms. Thompson took the place of Ashley Pirovano and has done a superb job in the short time that she has been here and has allowed me to harness the skills that I have learned as well as provide my incite as to how MMC works. I do not have an official title, but I like to think of myself as the junior laboratory supervisor’s assistant. I am the first and only student to have worked alongside Ms. Pirovano, and it has really heightened my experience at MMC, especially in the science department. I am given the opportunity to understand the preparation of labs for different courses, such as Organic Chemistry I & II, General Chemistry I & II, Biology I & II, Human Physiology, Nutrition, Cell and Molecular biology, and Physics I & II. As a full-time biology student, I am enrolled in a majority of these classes, and so I am able to expand on my current understanding of the course which I am preparing for both academically and physically.


As the junior laboratory assistant, I have come to love science even more than I thought I did, specifically the “behind-the-scenes” work that goes into making reactions and various exercises work with ease. I thus have a deeper appreciation for the minds that help put together each laboratory, because the way the labs are set up prior really dictates whether or not the students will be confused. It is vital to neatly and clearly provide students with all materials they need; and contrary to popular belief, the behind-the-scenes are the best and most fun parts of labs, especially when you have a great team surrounding you. This may be a biased opinion, but I’ve been able to make Play-Dough for a physics lab, agarose gel for a Cell & Molecular lab, to set up dissections, test reactions, and really have become a part of the science department. The feeling of knowing that a laboratory exercise/experiment that you helped prepare is the one of the greatest feelings, because it proves that science actually works.


The atmosphere at MMC is very intimate so it’s not difficult to ask for some help. The college prides itself on being diverse yet connected, and I feel that very strongly given the opportunities that have been provided to me at MMC. I really would like to thank everyone in the Department of Natural Sciences for being a part of my experience at Marymount Manhattan College.