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Graduate Student Highlight: Dayna Patterson

29 January 2021
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Dayna Patterson.

Each week, the Department of Chemistry highlights one graduate student who is doing great work around the department. In this installment of our highlight series, we are featuring Dayna Patterson, a fifth-year student in the Weinert group.

Dayna’s research focuses on characterizing a class of heme proteins called globin-coupled sensors (GCS). GCS proteins are widely distributed in bacteria and contain a heme-sensor domain that is linked to an output domain that can regulate diverse functions such as biofilm formation and degradation. GCS proteins’ heme-sensor domain can sense gaseous ligands (oxygen, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide) to turn on or turn off the output domains’ function. Dayna uses biochemical, spectroscopic, and structural techniques to understand how these ligands transmit their signals to the output domain.

This week, we sat down with Dayna to discuss her life in and outside of the lab! Please enjoy our interview with Dayna Patterson.

Question: How did you get interested in chemistry?

Answer: My interest in chemistry started in high school. I really enjoyed the lab work. Once I started college, I thought that I wanted to pursue biology, but chemistry kept my interest so I stuck with it.  
 
Q: What inspires you as a scientist?

A: The “aha!” moments. Research can be tough. However, the moment of sudden realization or insight on how to solve a problem is an exciting feeling. It inspires me to keep going. 
 
Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I was born and raised in Houston, Texas (shout out to the south!). I may be biased, but Houston has the best culinary scene in the country. You can get whatever you have a taste for in Houston. 
 
Q: Do you have any hobbies?

A: I like to run, hike, go to concerts, and watch reality TV. 
 
Q: What’s your dream vacation? 

A: My dream vacation would be an all-expenses paid trip to North Island, Seychelles.
 
Q: If you could have dinner with anybody (living or dead), who would it be and why?

A: I would have dinner with Beyoncé because her work ethic inspires me, we’re both from Houston, and we both love Popeyes chicken. So, I think we would have a lot to chat about!

Many thanks to Dayna for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more graduate student highlights in the weeks to come!