Originally from Texas, Jessica Liu holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin and recently completed her PhD in Biochemistry at Harvard University in the labs of Professors David Jeruzalmi and then Timur Yusufzai.
For her dissertation, Liu used a biochemical approach to characterize members of the CHD family—a group of proteins suspected to play key roles in regulating chromatin structure throughout mammalian development. Her main focus was on dissecting the domain architecture of CHD2, a protein of unknown function and the loss of which is correlated with neurological disorders.
“Many factors led to my decision to pursue a career in education,” said Liu. “In my last few years as a graduate student, I taught inquiry-based discovery workshops to middle and high school students at the MIT Museum. There, I realized how rewarding it is to play a role in getting students excited about what science can do.”
After completing her graduate program in 2015, Liu began a part-time postdoctoral position in the D’Andrea Lab where she found herself mentoring many undergraduates and fellow postdocs. She also continued teaching part-time at the MIT Museum. “In that transition year, I realized I care more about the mentoring of the individuals doing the science than actually doing the science myself,” she said.
Liu will be the preceptor for MCB courses 63 and 64, which are led by Alain Viel and Robert Lue, respectively. “I have the chance to learn from two professors who care greatly about changing the face of how science is taught in the classroom,” she said. “These courses are aimed at showing students how much science impacts our day-to-day lives while also implementing innovative ways to engage students in the course material.”
As preceptor, Liu will handle administrative aspects of the course, oversee a team of teaching fellows, and ensure the course is engaging and educational for students. “I am passionate about science because I love hearing scientists’ stories,” she said. “I am fascinated by the ways humanity intersects with science; science is supposed to be an objective, unbiased study of the natural world, and yet scientists have to make subjective decisions every day. Moreover, ‘objective’ scientific discoveries profoundly impact people globally, and it is important for students to understand this.”