Nelson Mandela stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In my opinion, science education is the key to making Mandela's belief a reality.
I have chosen to pursue a career in biomedical research, ultimately allowing me to address the epidemic of breast and prostate cancer, a disease which currently plagues the African-American community. To accomplish this, my goal is to obtain a PhD in cancer biology.
I have always had a partiality for science and reasoning- a trait of great importance in my opinion. My love for reasoning was the driving force for choosing cryptology and computer science as my fields of expertise while on active duty in the United States Navy. It was an extremely rewarding tour of duty. While in the line of duty, expedient thought processing and data analysis were the top characteristics that were demanded of me. With the attainment of Petty Officer First Class Cryptologic Technician (Technical) to prove that, I am an excellent performer of those tasks. I have received two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for my proficiencies.
Continuing my thirst for scientific reasoning, I incorporated practical research into my science education. I have been involved in ongoing research for the past 2 years. During this time, I have acquired skills in using the PCR to measure and identify genes, performed plasmid DNA isolation from bacteria, used the Nanodrop to quantify DNA and RNA, performed electrophoresis in order to identify plasmid DNA, as well as became familiar with the application of the LiCoR DNA analyzer for sequencing DNA. I acquired these skills as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Wesley Gray's lab where we are interested in natural compounds and their biological and chemical effects on prostate and breast cancer. My particular area addresses the task of generating a gene network that loosely describes the sequence of events that lead up to apoptosis in cells induced with Kola Acuminata extracts. I have presented my progress in this research at several conferences including the LSU Triple EX Conference and the Society of Toxicology Regional Conference at Mississippi State University, and most recently, the National Society of Toxicology Conference in Washington, D.C. as an undergraduate fellow.
Though duties for my country and education have been the bulk of my adult life, I have given time to assisting those less fortunate than I in so many ways. From being selected as a mentor for Daniel Kids in the state of Florida to becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate for East Baton Rouge Parish, I have shared my experiences in order to promote a better tomorrow.
My goals are far from achieved, but definitely attainable. My dedicated time and persistence in the laboratory has been recognized on many levels from my own professors and peers, to the LSU Triple EX Symposium for Undergraduate Research, and the Society of Toxicology National Conference. By far, the most accurate affirmation of my hard work was given by the award of 2011 Southern University College of Sciences Student of the Year.
The fate of my future lies in my own hands and I am willing to go to the deepest depths and climb the highest mountains in order to arrive at that place.
Russell Joseph Ledet
NYU School of Medicine, Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences