Ariel Rydeen.Hometown: Maplewood, Minnesota
Undergraduate Institution: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

I grew up in Maplewood, Minnesota and went to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where I got my BS in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. I first got interested in research my senior year of high school. I got into a career development program that allowed me to study a subject for 6 months then shadow in the field for 6 months. I chose to study stem cells then had my first taste of research at the U of M. From there I knew research was something I wanted to do and continued conducting research through my undergraduate studies.

When looking at graduate schools I knew that I wanted to work on the heart, though I did not know in which field. I was drawn to Cincinnati for the mild winters, amazing research and the ability to start in an umbrella program, which allowed me to research the heart in several fields. During my interview I was impressed that with how the student was a priority and the faculty were always open to talk. After rotating in multiple other programs, I decided that MDB program was the best for me. The classes sounded the most interesting with the ability to customize what classes you feel would best help your education. The facilities are largely new and state of the art with several core facilities, which creates a lot of opportunities to learn new techniques. Ultimately though, my decision was influenced by the flexibility of the program that makes it possible to still have and maintain a decent work life balance.

Currently, I am working in the Waxman Lab studying cardiovascular development in zebrafish. My projects are focused on the roles of Cyp26 enzymes and retinoic acid signaling in patterning the cardiovascular progenitor fields and in later maintenance of the heart. I have benefitted in this program from having the opportunity to attend numerous conferences to present my work and learn the current advances in my fields of interest. Additionally, the program brings in seminar speakers from around the world to give talks every week, which is a great opportunity to broaden interests and learn about other fields.