Working at a lab bench

Student Perspective: Aaron Coey

Aaron Coey

Co-Advisors: Dr. Joseph Puglisi
& Dr. Elisabetta Viani Puglisi

Why did you choose to come to graduate school at Stanford?

Stanford provides a uniquely relaxed but challenging atmosphere for studying science. Students are extremely dedicated to their work but are collaborative and not competitive with each other. It's beautiful, the weather is fantastic, the research is world class, faculty instruction is superb, and the students are friendly and helpful.

Describe your research.

My thesis project studies the initiation process of reverse transcription in HIV. Our goal is to understand the structural properties of the viral genomic RNA, human tRNA reverse transcription primer, and reverse transcriptase enzyme, and how these properties regulate the initiation process. To achieve this, we use a broad array of biophysical techniques including NMR, X-ray crystallography, SAXS, EM, RNA chemical mapping, and basic biochemistry kinetic assays.

Why did you choose to join your lab?

I chose my thesis laboratory because it would give me a broad exposure to biophysical and structural biology techniques. I have always found atomic-level structural questions interesting, and this project allows me to study both RNA and protein structure and learn the cutting-edge techniques that can be used to study such problems. We also have collaborations with laboratories across the world that can test our structural hypothesis in an in vivo HIV model to understand how atomic level structure directly translates to HIV biology.

What do you like about living in the Bay Area?

The Bay Area is one of the most diverse areas in the country. The people are friendly, there are plenty of things to do, and the food is amazing.

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