Sierra Williams

Sierra Williams

Hey everyone! My name is Sierra and I received my B.S. in Chemistry from Temple University. I’m currently a Ph.D. student going into my 5th year in the Department of Chemistry at UC Irvine. I work in the Prescher lab where I build imaging tools to “spy” on cellular events. I use the light produced from fireflies for inspiration, which involves a reaction between an enzyme (luciferase) and substrate (luciferin) to release photons. I’ve been working on engineering luciferases that selectively react with structurally unique luciferins to visualize multiple cell types at a time. We envision applying these tools to study complex cellular diseases, such as cancer metastasis. I’ve always loved using chemistry as a way to understand biological processes. I hope to continue to build more chemical tools that the scientific community can use to interrogate processes related to disease and infection. When I’m not in the lab, I’m heavily involved in mentorship. I am going into my third year as a Leadership Coach for Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience: Partnering in Leadership for Undergraduate Students (DECADE PLUS) at UCI. During my time as a Leadership Coach, I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring first year undergraduates from low-income, first generation, and/or underrepresented backgrounds. I would not be where I am today without my mentors, and I am eager to continue to help younger students in STEM achieve their professional and personal goals.

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