NAME: Cynthia Converso
EDUCATION: I received a B.S. in Biochemistry with a minor in Mathematics from SUNY Geneseo in 2016. I started at Stony Brook as a Masters student in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and promptly switched to the Molecular and Cellular Biology PhD program in 2018. I have since chosen the Biochemistry and Cell Biology track.
RESEARCH INTERESTS: I am interested in understanding how DNA sequence plays a role in relaying which genes should be actively read or silenced.
CURRENT RESEARCH: I work with Budding yeast cells in order to decipher the role of DNA sequence in the site-specific deposition of a histone variant, H2A.Z, by the enzyme SWR. This plays an important role in telling the cell when and where to start transcribing genes. Miscommunication in this pathway can lead to multiple disorders, including cancer.
FUTURE GOALS: I plan to branch out in my research to include new organisms to study. After graduation, I plan to join a Postdoctoral program and eventually, become a professor!
Why did you want to be a part of GWiSE?
A sense of “girl power” is hugely important in my life. Being a part of a community of like-minded and determined women is empowering. I would like to give that sense of belonging and deserving to others like me.
What/who got you interested in your field?
When I was young, my father and I would bond over watching The Science Channel. Later in life, I was increasingly interested in my science and math classes, although I did not know what I wanted to pursue in life. A string of wonderful teachers and, later, professors lead me to Biochemistry and research. Ultimately, my PI Dr. Luk is the person that got me interested in the work I am doing now. His enthusiasm is contagious!
When did you know you were interested in pursuing a degree in science/engineering?
I decided I wanted to be a mad scientist when I was 12 years old. Although it mostly started as a joke, I kept on the path that sounded closest to being a “mad scientist”. By keeping my options open and accepting opportunities as they came, it led me to Stony Brook’s MCB PhD program. So, I’d say that I am getting pretty close to 12-year-old Cindy’s dream.
What do you think needs to happen for there to be more women in science/engineering?
More representation! Young children need to see women (and all genders) as an equal part in STEM and know that all doors are open for them if they are willing to try. By displaying equal representation throughout their lives, I hope that they feel just as deserving and qualified as everyone else in their shoes.
Name one thing you started in the last year that you are glad you did and why:
On my 25th birthday in September, I decided to overhaul my health! I mindfully ate more whole foods and was active on a daily basis. Almost a year later and my doctors consider me in perfect health! I have since run a half-marathon, meditate daily and have a completely new and relentlessly positive attitude on life!
If your childhood had a smell, what would it be?
DIRT! No question about it. I was a girl who loved playing in the mud.
If you could only live in one area (city/beach/mountains/desert/plains) for the rest of your life, where would you live and why?
I would love to live on a 20 acre plot of land on the side of a mountain, with a lake running through my land. I want a fully self-sustaining property with a small vegetable farm, grazing animals and chickens. My dream would be to live completely off the grid, living on solar and wind energy.
What career did you want to pursue when you were in elementary school?
Well, at first I wanted to grow up to be Lizzie McGuire. A singer/actress or a princess would have been ideal. By 5th grade, though, I wanted to be a psychologist.