Meet Randy Schekman, PhD - a Professor, Nobel Prize Winner and Amgen Scholar Mentor
Growing up, Randy Schekman was always enthusiastic about math and science. But the 2013 Nobel Prize winner in physiology or medicine—for his fundamental work showing how proteins move within cells and are secreted—first developed a passion for bench biology as an undergraduate.
His sophomore year at the University of California, Los Angeles, Schekman joined the lab of Professor Dan Ray, who studied chromosome replication in bacteriophages — viruses that infect bacteria. At the time, Ray was starting out as an assistant professor and was working in the lab himself. Schekman recalls, “He took the time to talk with me and show me how to do things. I got good exposure to techniques and the details, the logic of doing an experiment and using bacteria.”
Amgen Scholars typically learn to conduct hands-on research in much the same way — by working closely with faculty mentors as well as postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. Regardless of who does the training, getting the chance to conduct experiments is crucial at the undergraduate level, says Schekman, who has welcomed many undergraduates into his own lab.
“If you are serious about research it’s good to see different styles. The Amgen Scholars Program offers that opportunity — to go to a different place, and see different problems and approaches.”
“Anybody who has a serious interest in doing laboratory research really has to have exposure to it as an undergrad,” Schekman says. “You can’t possibly know what graduate school is about unless you’ve worked in a laboratory.”
Schekman mentored 2008 Amgen Scholar Charlotte Seid, who is now a graduate student in biology at MIT. “My summer as an Amgen Scholar in Randy's lab was a tremendous opportunity, and he was such a wonderful mentor and role model,” says Seid.
The Amgen Scholars Program crucially expands research opportunities for students who don’t have access to high-quality lab opportunities at their home institutions as well as for those who already have research experience. As an undergraduate himself, Schekman broadened his skill set by studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he ultimately decided he would pursue graduate school. “If you are serious about research it’s good to see different styles,” Schekman says. “The Amgen Scholars Program offers that opportunity — to go to a different place, and see different problems and approaches.”
To learn more about the Amgen Scholars Program, please visit our website and check out the #AmgenScholars hashtag on Twitter. Visit AmgenInspires.com and follow @AmgenFoundation to stay up to date with all STEM-related news from the Amgen Foundation.