From Passion to Purpose: Aspiring Oncologist Amber Shelton ’18 Conducts Cancer Research

Amber Shelton

Amber Shelton ’18 CLAS realized she wanted to pursue a career in pediatric oncology, when she saw firsthand that caring for an ill child includes caring for the child’s family and friends. She is well on her way toward that goal. At Villanova, Amber is in the five-year BS/MS program in the Biology Department, majoring in Biology and French and conducting research on cancer cells for her senior thesis.

“Being able to experience research as an undergraduate student has been eye-opening,” Amber says. “It has better prepared me for the research aspect of being an oncologist.”

Amber has been doing mentioned research with Janice Knepper, PhD, professor of biochemistry and co-chair of the Biochemistry Department. Within Dr. Knepper’s lab, they have been looking at the Fetal Liver Zin Finger protein-1 (FLiz-1) and its effects on breast cancer cells. The ultimate goal of Amber’s senior thesis and of the research is to try to answer the certain questions pertaining to FLiz-1 and its role in breast cancer.

Since enrolling at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Amber has spent summers shadowing medical professionals at the Montefiore Health System and interning at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

Amber’s studies in both the sciences and language have given her the hard and soft skills she’ll need as a professional in the field. While she learned empirical data and facts in her biology classes, her French courses helped her gain the skills she needs to better cater to patients.

“My French major has taught me the importance of being able to empathize and understand those who experience life in a different way than I do,” Amber says.

CLAS provides students with extensive resources, facilities and newly renovated discipline-specific laboratories to support research, including a new Imaging Center in Mendel Hall. This multi-instrument microscopy lab features a Confocal Microscope and Scanning Electron Microscope, both key to research and teaching. Students leave CLAS prepared for careers in medicine and other health professions due to their profound understanding of complex biological processes.

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