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Science Graduates

Delira Robbins, Ph.D.

How I got to LSUS:
I was interested in getting a good-quality education here in Shreveport, LA, and LSUS was the college for me. LSUS challenged me academically, socially and personally to be a great student, and now scientist.

Fond Memories of LSUS:
My fondest memories at LSUS were doing undergraduate research with Dr. Beverly Burden and presenting my research at the Annual Student Research Symposium.

LSUS faculty who helped me:
Dr. Beverly Burden aided in sparking my interest in basic science research and I later attended graduate school at LSU Health Shreveport. Dr. Stephen Banks encouraged me to spend the summer at Yale University for the Minority Medical Education Program (MMEP) in 2003. Dr. Tara Williams-Hart, a lifetime mentor, aided in my love for genetics.

How LSUS helped me succeed:
The Career Counseling Center helped me to identify my goals and the steps to take to become a scientist. I also learned the importance of volunteering and giving back through various student organizations at LSUS. Lastly, LSUS provided a great laboratory setting and the necessary tools to understand the fundamentals of research.

What I do now:
Cancer Research Scientist. My dissertation work at LSU Health Shreveport focused on chemoprevention using an antioxidant approach during early stage skin carcinogenesis.

About my job:
As a St. Jude Postdoctoral Fellow, my research will focus on the pregnane X receptor (PXR) signaling pathway and how it may be regulated by p53. This new quest in my scientific career is fascinating because I will be able to learn and utilize new techniques to answer various questions about the complex and collaborative signaling pathways that may contribute to the adverse effects following metabolism of chemotherapeutic drugs in pediatric oncology.

Advice to college-bound students:
Establish your career goals early. This can be done by visiting the counselors in the Career Counseling Center. Get involved in student organizations. This will allow you the opportunity to stay engaged with the current collegiate activities and will help in building new social networks. Give back through community service as much as possible. This will not only add purpose to your college experience, but will help build a life of significance. Always have open communication with the professors. Set new goals for your new stage in life - college. Last but not least, enjoy college life!

Advice to someone who wants to enter my field:
Get involved in undergraduate research programs. There are several nationwide, as well as locally at LSUS and LSU Health Shreveport. Take on leadership positions. By taking on leadership positions, you are able to build unique leadership skills that will enhance you and your potential scientific career in numerous ways. Display your resume on your institutional website. This provides a great way to market your skills to potential future employers. Lastly, always seek to be the best!

Tips on choosing a major or career:
Always seek a major or career that you are passionate about - one that you can wake up early in the morning wanting to work hard to pursue that next goal. Take advantage of the Career Counseling Center.

My toughest professional challenge:
Becoming more independent as a scientist. However, the leadership skills that I gained at LSUS, and the ability to explore and adapt to new projects, allowed this challenge to be one of the greatest transitions of my career from a graduate student to a scientist.

My toughest personal challenge:
Becoming an effective mentor at the graduate level. Initially, being raised as an only child, the idea of mentoring was novel. However, for two semesters, two hours daily, I planned experiments and daily literature searches that were designed to keep the students engaged in their project for the duration of their time in our laboratory. Though I struggled, I learned the value of persistence; and now I have gained confidence and mentoring skills that will be valuable as a scientist.

Successes in my life:
• St. Jude Postdoctoral Fellowship 2012
• James A. Cardelli Award for Excellence in Cancer Research 2012
• Society for Free Radical Biology & Medicine
• Travel Award (Atlanta, GA) 2011
• AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award 2011
• Travel Award (Boston, MA)
• South Central Chapter - Society of Toxicology (SOT)
• Regional Graduate Oral Presentation Award 2011
• AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award 2011
• Travel Award (Orlando, FL)
• South Central Chapter - Society of Toxicology (SOT)
• Regional Graduate Poster Session Award 2010
• Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society 2000-2005
• National Dean's List, Outstanding Academic Performance 2000-2004
• Yale School of Medicine Minority Medical Education Program 2003

I've learned this from life:
Always maintain a positive attitude and outlook in life. Positive energy creates more positive energy! While gaining success, also build a life of significance by giving back to the community through volunteering. There are multiple rewards that come with being a service to others.