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University of Missouri

Loving the Lab

A sophomore biochemistry major spends time in the lab.

Dallas Pineda

Sophomore Dallas Pineda researches HIV antibodies in the lab of Associate Professor Stefan Sarafianos. Photo by Rob Hill.

Although Dallas Pineda resides in downtown Columbia, she really lives at the lab.

A sophomore Latina from O’Fallon, Ill., Pineda was rudderless when it came to choosing a major. Then she discovered Mizzou’s Exposure to Research for Science Students (EXPRESS) Program.

EXPRESS is designed for freshmen and sophomores from ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the sciences. Now Pineda researches HIV antibodies in the lab of Stefan Sarafianos, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology. AIDS medications currently available perform better on the strain of HIV common in North America, Australia and Western Europe. Their goal is to improve treatments for the strain common in the developing world.

“I’ll go into class and know stuff already because I’ve done it in the lab,” says Pineda, a biochemistry major. “That’s what I love about it. I used to go into calculus and ask, ‘How am I ever going to use this?’ Now I know it’s part of my degree.”

Pineda concentrated more on her social life in high school, but she discovered her love of science by coming to Mizzou. MU’s challenges and opportunities have awakened the stellar student within, and she hopes to go on to dental school.

“This research has focused me and made me more serious about my work — pretty much all I do is go to the lab in my free time,” Pineda says. “But it’s OK because I actually enjoy it.”