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Jessica Scherer: Undergraduate

What are you focusing on in your studies?

I’m on the iGEM team, the International Genetically Engineered Machine Team. It’s a research program with 16 undergrads and we spend Spring quarter and Summer doing a large research project that we’ll present in Boston later this month. We’re developing a cheap and maintainable contraceptive for women in third world countries. We’re engineering a yeast to produce progesterone and then we’ll quantify the progesterone in the yeast and give it to women to grow themselves. Given the right food source and temperature, the yeast can infinitely produce birth control so they’ll never have to repurchase it. I also work in the Forsberg Lab, a stem cell engineering lab. I’m learning about stem cell pathways and how to switch stem cell pathways, so if an adult mouse prefers one way versus a fetal mouse, then we can switch the pathways and see the effects on that.

What’s next for you?

I really want to go to grad school. No one in my family has ever gone to grad school so I’m trying to figure out that process and how to go about that. That’s my priority for the next couple months. I really love stem cell engineering and just all science, honestly. I’d love to work with stem cells though because my dad injured his ankle when he was 16 and they set it wrong and it formed wrong, so he’s been in pain since he was 16. He just started receiving stem cell treatments to grow back the cartilage that he lost and this is the first time since his injury that he’s been able to walk and run without pain, so I love stem cells. I love all the capabilities and the potential things stem cells can do in the future and I’d love to be involved with that.


I love my professors and the classes are really interesting. I love the iGEM program because when you’re in a lot of regular classes, a teacher will give you an assignment that you work on in the lab but they know the protocol and what to expect the results to look like, but with iGEM, you design everything, you figure it all out and you don’t know what results you’re looking for. I’m so glad BSOE has iGEM. And David Bernick, our mentor for iGEM, is one of the best professors and mentors I’ve ever had.

What do you do for fun?

I really like makeup. I’ve been playing piano for 16 years now and I love it. I’m pretty simple. I love netflix. I don’t have a lot of free time but I spend what time I have doing what I love here on campus.

Biomolecular Engineering
Degree Program: 
Bachelors of Science, Bioengineering
Place of Birth: 
Temecula, CA
Undergraduate Institution: 
UC Santa Cruz