Student Success Stories

Highlighting success in the RNA Training Program

Nicole Ralbovsky - Prize winning RNA Fellow

Nicole Ralbovsky

We are happy to announce that Nicole Ralbovsky, a fourth year Chemistry graduate student from the Lednev Lab and RNA Fellows was recently honored with two prestigious awards: The 2020 NY/NJ Society for Applied Spectroscopy's Graduate Student Award and the Eastern Analytical Symposium Graduate Student Research Award. 

"I am so grateful that these awards have recognized the effort that I have  put in and I am very honored to have received them. The ability to share my research efforts with those in the same field has opened up many doors for future collaboration and networking opportunities that I am immensely thankful for," said Nicole.

Nicole presented her research remotely at the May 2020 NY/NJ Society for Applied Spectroscopy meeting where she described her project which focuses on using an analytical chemistry technique called Surface Enhanced Raman spectroscopy for achieving single-molecule detection of DNA and RNA. The method is very sensitive and able to detect minute amounts of an analyte present in a sample. After showing single-molecule detection is possible, the next step is to investigate the method for detecting specific sequences of DNA or RNA which are biomarkers for a disease of indicative of a condition of interest. The goal of this approach is to capitalize on the sensitivity of Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy to achieve better and more accurate diagnoses.

"I have enjoyed a lot of different things about the RNA Fellows Program," said Nicole. "First, I loved the RNA retreat, it was a great opportunity to jump in and meet new people while learning about the different research everyone is conducting. I also have greatly enjoyed learning from the professors, they are all such abundant sources of knowledge and information and it has been really great to learn from people with so much experience in this field."

Nicole plans to defend her Ph.D. this fall and has accepted a position with Merck. She is excited to apply the skills and knowledge she has gained as a graduate student at the University at Albany toward a useful and productive career in pharmaceutical sciences. "I am incredibly thankful to the RNA Fellows program for taking me in and showing me the exciting world of RNA biology," said Nicole. "There are many new things that I have learned which I never would have if not accepted into this program. The experience has been amazing, and I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved in it". Nicole and the Lednev group are great examples of the excellent trainees and faculty found at the RNA Institute. We are tremendously proud of the group's achievements. 

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Read the Spotlight on Justin Waldern in our March 2021 Newsletter - In the Loop