RNA Featured Researcher — Petra Vande Zande, MCDB


Petra Vande Zande
PhD Candidate
Wittkopp Lab
Department of Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology


  • Who/what brought you to science? From an early age I have been fascinated with the beauty of the natural world and filled with
    curiosity about how it works, from ecosystems down to the molecular level. As a high school biology teacher, I loved creating research experiences for my students, and decided to pursue research myself in order to mentor researchers at the leading edge.


  • What are your research interests? I am interested in exploring how the regulation of gene expression, and mutations that change
    that regulation, impacts the entire cellular system. These mutations are extremely important in both evolution and disease.


  • What do you hope is the outcome/impact of your research? I hope that my research will lead to a greater understanding of how mutations that influence gene expression will impact the cell as a whole, ultimately resulting in changes to organismal fitness. That understanding could help us predict which mutations are more likely to be involved in an adaptive process.


  • What advice would you give to students who’d like to get more involved in research? Try it out! Start asking your professors, GSIs, or the Program in Biology how to get involved in the many research experience programs available at Michigan and many other universities. There is nothing like a hands-on experience to get a real taste of research.


  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I loved being a classroom teacher before going back to grad school, and look forward to making it a part of what I do in the future. If that doesn’t count because it was a past profession, I would love to explore being a musician in some capacity.

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