Ava Boston

2nd Year Masters Student
North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University

About Me

I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Elizabeth City State University prior to starting my Masters degree at North Carolina A&T. I always felt I was going to be a pediatrician before I started doing research. Surprisingly, my love of research surpassed that! This August, I will be starting my Doctoral studies in Energy and Environmental Systems at North Carolina A&T.

How was your experience with STEM classes and teachers in middle and high school?

I fell in love with science in high school. Mrs. Phifer’s Biology class was everything and more for me at Plymouth High School. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in the scientific world on the very first day of her class. While other students hated reading articles and doing experiments, I couldn’t get enough of it.

What’s next for you?

As graduation is approaching in May, I am looking forward to becoming a Biology PhD candidate in August. My ultimate goal is to teach Biology at the collegiate level.

What do you do to unwind?

I love to go shopping and hang out with my friends to unwind.

My Research

Tell us about your graduate research

African-American men are underrepresented in research studies used to develop biomarkers for diagnosis and early detection of DN. Previous studies have developed more sensitive and reliable proteomic markers of kidney injury, which include neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), cystatin C and kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1).  Accumulating evidence suggests that transforming growth factor β1 (TGF‐β1) is involved in the development of renal scarring.  Meanwhile, adiponectin is an adipokine that has been shown to have reno-protective effects through AMPK-activated pathways, resulting in the prevention of albuminuria. The goal of the current study is to determine the correlation between proteomic biomarkers of kidney injury, adiponectin and TGF-β1 in African American men with diabetes.

What motivated you to pursue this line of research?

Diabetes is prevalent in the African-American community, and I didn’t see any real progress happening. I wanted to help create solutions and I know that knowledge is key.

What is the coolest thing about your research?

The coolest part of my research is being able to incorporate African-American males since they are not usually the control group in biomarker research.

What is the most challenging part of research for you?

I would have to say that starting a new area of research was pretty challenging, but totally worth it. I enjoy learning new things and I certainly want to possess a wealth of knowledge. So no real complaints over here!

My Grad School Experience

Why did you choose to go to Grad School?

I became interested in research as an undergraduate student at Elizabeth City State University. I loved going to work daily knowing that I could possibly be solving one of the biggest problems in the scientific world one day. I actually looked forward to getting up and going to class and I was usually early.

Do you ever feel discouraged? How do you get around that?

Too many times to count! My relationship with God has been everything on this education journey. Praying, fasting and believing has brought me this far. I thank God daily for my process and my progress.

Who are some of your biggest cheerleaders?

My family and friends are definitely my biggest supporters. They have listened to my adventures about lab each day for the last 5 years! I am truly grateful for all of their support. I have also had some pretty amazing mentors and advisors that have helped me along the way. I can’t thank my support system enough.

What has been the most useful life advice you have received?

Never be afraid to step out on faith. What God has for you is for you. Everything happens for a reason and nothing happens by osmosis.

What do you want to say to up and coming Melanin Genius?

Nothing’s too hard for God. God Speed Beauties!



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