Grad student works on cancer research

professor and doctoral student in pharmacy lab

NDSU graduate students can work on world-class research projects with some of the top scientists in their field. These opportunities help students challenge themselves as researchers, find their career passion and grow as leaders. And they are guided by knowledgeable faculty who are invested in student success.

Swetha Thiyagarajan, a doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences, is an example of an NDSU graduate student transformed by a research experience. Thiyagarajan has worked in the lab of Stefan Vetter, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, since 2016. She studies the activation of the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts, or RAGE, which is closely linked to several chronic diseases, including cancer.

The research could help produce targeted drug treatments that can be used to treat a variety of cancers.

Thiyagarajan said working closely with Vetter has helped her become an independent, confident scientist and leader in the lab. It’s also taught her how to deal with the ups-and-downs of long-term research that can take years to advance.

“Dr. Vetter is always approachable and he helps the students in his lab think independently and grow as scientists,” Thiyagarajan said. “He connects with each of his students and helps us improve every day.”

Along with world-class research, Thiyagarajan has learned valuable communication and interpersonal skills in Vetter’s lab. She has presented at the NDSU graduate student council, helped teach fellow students and worked on a team with Pharm.D. students.

“As advisers, we want students to be happy and to do great research,” Vetter said. “Students should always feel comfortable about coming to the lab or my office. Students should feel empowered to open my office door and talk to me at any time.”

Thiyagarajan is from India. She hopes to work as a postdoctoral researcher or work in the science industry after graduation.

Explore master’s and doctoral degrees offered at NDSU.