Collage of Stanford Biosicences students using pipettes for research

Student Profile: Sharon Briggs

Sharon Briggs
  • Hometown: Charleston, W.Va.
  • Undergraduate: BA, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Home Program: Genetics
  • Thesis Lab: Dr. Renee Reijo Pera

Please describe your research area and interest.

I am interested in understanding X chromosome inactivation during the reprogramming process. Human stem cells can have two active X chromosomes or one active/one inactive X chromosome, and the causes and consequences are not well understood. Specifically, I am interested in studying human-induced pluripotent stem cells in the hopes that my work will help future stem cell transplants into women.

What do you like best about graduate school at Stanford?

I love everything about graduate school and Stanford. I love that I get paid to do science! I love that I am surrounded by exceptionally smart people who like to talk about my research and science more broadly. I love the freedom to study what interests me and to be challenged by things that no one knows or understands yet. I love the community at Stanford that is so supportive and encouraging. I can't imagine a better job!

Who are your sources of support at Stanford?

My Genetics classmates are my best support group. We are always there for each other to celebrate our successes and be there for the inevitable fails. I find that having diverse extracurricular interests has also given me a number of support groups outside of science that can help give me a different perspective.

What activities are you involved in outside of research?

I play soccer for a coed adult league in Palo Alto. I am also extremely involved in IM sports at Stanford, playing soccer, volleyball, and basketball. I am involved in the Stanford Biosciences Student Association and have planned the first-year camping trip, organized all IM sports teams for SBSA, and been involved in organizing orientation and recruitment events. I also serve as a Community Advisor in graduate housing and plan events for diverse groups of graduate students. Finally, I have been involved in two summer programs at Stanford, SSRP (Stanford Summer Research Program) and SCP (Stanford College Prep).

How do you bring diversity to Stanford Biosciences?

I grew up in West Virginia and, until a few months ago, had never met someone at Stanford (or during interviews) from my home state. I have always had to defend my hometown and where I grew up, and I am always met with laughs or skepticism when the topic of my hometown comes up.

What is your dream job/long-term career goals?

My long term career goals are in the advocacy and education areas of women's reproductive health. I am extremely passionate about educating policymakers on a national level. Ideally, I would like to work for national or state government to help write policy regulating women's health issues or to work for nonprofits who lobby, consult, or work abroad to change the current state of women's reproductive health and health policies.

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