Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Meet The Researcher | Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry(MBB) | Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry | August 06, 2015
“I’ve always loved science but didn’t really realize it
until my first year of undergrad,” said Crystal Khan, a fourth year graduate
student in the Molecular
Biophysics and Biochemistry track. “I was planning to enter as a music
major but after taking my first required science class I realized the arts
wasn’t for me.”
Khan decided to officially change her major to biology and describes
that as a first generation college graduate, she didn’t know much about career
possibilities in science.
“I didn’t really know anything about science other than what
I had seen in the movies,” Khan said.
Khan decided to learn more by finding a job in the lab.
“I was wandering around UT Health Science Center until a
very nice professor asked me if I was ok so I told him my plan about getting a
job in a lab,” she said. “He smiled and offered me some great advice to pick a
department and email the chair my resume.”
After emailing her resume to faculty members at UT Health
Science Center, Dr.
Paul Fitzpatrick emailed her back with a job offer washing the lab
“I took it and eventually started to do research in his
lab,” she said. “That is where I discovered my love of biochemistry,
After graduating from University of Texas San Antonio with a
degree in biology in 2012, Khan decided to apply for a graduate degree at UT
Health Science Center.
Khan is currently working on research in the lab of Dr. Paul
Fitzpatrick focused on the mechanism of the regulation of the enzyme
Phenylalanine Hydroxylase, which is an important in the disease phenylketonuria
“One of my favorite things about enzymology is the ability
to see how complex biological systems can be described by basic algebra…it is
mind blowing,” Khan said. “My goal for my research is to add to the
understanding of this very complex enzyme which has been researched on for
Khan explained that since the enzyme is highly complex that
learning how it actually works would aid in understanding of PKU and hopefully
add to the development for treatment.
In the future, Khan hopes to become a tenured professor and
help underrepresented minorities learn more about the career possibilities in
“Since I was a first generation student, I had no idea what
scientists really did and had never met anyone with a doctorate,” Khan said.
“I’d like to reach out to young children in at risk areas and help them
understand what it is we do and how they are very capable of doing the same if
they put their mind to it. All these children need is encouragement and I want
to give them that.”
Besides working in the lab, Khan likes to send time with her
husband Andrew and their American Eskimo dog Polvo, and three cats Cloud,
Castiel and Bear.
In addition, she also likes to stay up to date with social
“I love the internet. I’m a user of most social media sites
like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram,” Khan said. “I like being on top
the latest thing even though the older I get, the less in touch I become.”
This article is part of the "Meet The Researcher" series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.
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