In honor of Graduate Student Appreciation Month, Jasreet Rishi and Arin Oestreich would like to highlight SSR Trainees and familiarize ourselves with the wonderful young professionals who are members of SSR. This week we interviewed Crystal Roach, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Aileen Keating’s lab at Iowa State University.
1. What is your current position and research project?
Currently, I am a Graduate Research Assistant at Iowa State University, where I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Animal Physiology with a focus on reproductive toxicology. My dissertation examines the impact of heat stress on female development independently, with the combination of a toxin, in particular, the mycotoxin zearalenone. We utilize pigs as a model since pigs metabolize zearalenone similar to humans and the effect of heat stress in pigs is similar to other metabolic conditions observed in humans such as obesity and PCOS.
2. What attracted you to the field of reproduction?
I was introduced to the field of reproduction during my undergrad, as I took an introductory course focused on reproduction and development. I was intrigued by the complexity of the female reproductive system and how vital reproduction is for the advancement of living species.
3. Is there a mentor who has particularly influenced your career?
Yes. I have two women, Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller from Tuskegee University and my current mentor Dr. Aileen Keating from Iowa State University. Both women have shaped my interest in reproduction as a trainee through lecture and research training during my master's and Ph.D. I am inspired by the amount of effort both women contribute to the reproductive field intellectually, advocate for diversity, juggle the demands of being a professor, and excel as mothers. Both are sheroes!
4. What advice do you have to other students considering a Ph.D. in reproduction?
My advice for other Ph.D.'s in reproduction is to take advantage of what SSR has to offer for trainees, network within your area of interest, and just remember to have fun!