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Becky H

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)


Cancer biology, Cell biology, Gene editing/CRISPR, Stem cells, Cell signaling, Drug discovery biology, Adenosine/ATP


My name is Becky Hirsch, and I'm a PhD student at UNC-Chapel Hill studying cell biology and physiology. I study endometrial cancer and how these cancer cells become aggressive and metastatic. I am very passionate about scientific research, as well as science outreach and education. I love teaching science and working with the next generation of scientists! When I'm not in lab or teaching, I enjoy spending time outside, cooking, watching TV, and playing cards/board games. I also enjoy spending time with my friends' dogs - hopefully I'll have one of my own soon!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Cancer Drug Discovery

Let's make a new drug to fight cancer! Students will learn about existing cancer drugs and how they work (or that they don't always work so well...). They will then pick a specific type of cancer to research in-depth and write a research proposal or investor pitch to propose the invention of a new drug to treat that type of cancer. Students will learn the physiology and molecular biology behind cancer drugs and they will learn about a specific type of cancer by reading scientific papers. This project welcomes any student with an interest in cancer biology, drug discovery, and creativity/critical thinking!

Adenosine Signaling Extravaganza

Adenosine is a really important molecule in biology! Did you know that adenosine is the rescue response to a cell's SOS signal when it's stressed? Or that caffeine works through adenosine receptors? Students will learn way past "the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell" and do a deep dive into ATP/adenosine signaling in normal physiology and disease (cancer, inflammation, etc.). They will write a review article or make a poster/presentation about the broad scope of adenosine signaling. Alternatively, they could focus on one biological process or disease and create a paper or presentation about the contribution of adenosine. Students will learn about small molecules, enzymes, signaling cascades, receptors, and physiology. This project welcomes any student interested in biochemistry, cell signaling, and how cells handle stress!

Teaching experience

I have mentored undergraduate and graduate students in the lab, teaching them many different lab techniques to perform experiments. I also work with them on data analysis and make sure they understand the rationale for each experiment and how the results inform future science work. I have served as a DNA Day and DNA Day CONNECT ambassador for the past several years, going into several different high schools and giving lectures about various science topics. I prepare each lecture and a quiz to accompany the presentation.


Work experience

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (2015 - 2017)
Research assistant/Co-Op
Rubius Therapeutics (2017 - 2017)
Research assistant/Co-Op
CRISPR Therapeutics (2018 - 2020)
Research assistant


Northeastern University
BS Bachelor of Science (2018)
Chemistry and biology
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Cell Biology and Physiology

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