Building the necessary skills


Devin MolnauAs an undergraduate student at University of Saint Thomas, Devin Molnau pursued a degree in biochemistry. The small liberal arts college didn't offer a genetics major. But her major introduced her to the chemical processes that occur in living organisms. Her true interest, though, lied in evolutionary biology.

"I always wanted to go into evolutionary biology, but I had no idea how I was going to start that," said Molnau.

She decided to start with skills rather than an organism. When coming to ISU, Molnau choose the Bioinformatics and Biocomputational Biology (BCB) program.

"There's so much emphasis to be able to handle large data sets and knowing the appropriate test to do, the statistics, and everything behind that. So I thought it would be wise to start off in a field where that is the focus and pick the interest afterwards," she said.

Molnau joined Dr. John Nason's lab this past spring and is currently identifying olfactory genes in fig wasps. She plans to look at the rate of molecular evolution of these genes in comparison to "house-keeping" genes. She also intends to examine how these genes interact with the volatiles produced by the fig trees

Originally from Arizona, Molnau's family moved to Minnesota when she was middle school. She discovered she enjoys the season and picked up competitive sailing. She also enjoys biking and kayaking. She chose ISU for it's "small town feel" and the BCB program.