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Chemistry alum reflects on time spent at WSU

Date: 5/23/2016

May Khanna, B.S. '95, Ph.D. ‘01, loves the idea of inspiring others to achieve great heights. Khanna believes that her Wayne State education — in particular, her participation in mentor and chemistry professor Christine Chow’s lab — opened doors for her to successfully set-up her own research laboratory. Now an assistant professor in the University of Arizona‘s College of Medicine, Khanna also started a research company, Regulonix LLC, with her husband that aims at developing non-opioids pain therapeutics.

For Khanna, it seems like Wayne State may have been destiny; her older brother received his bachelor’s and Ph.D. from WSU and is now a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Indiana University. Khanna credits him with getting her interested in conducting research.

Where you end up in the future is dependent on you.

As an undergraduate, Khanna worked on her projects alongside graduate students. "You realize that you're just a tiny little hub in the world of science,” she says. “ You quickly get humbled by the very experience." Khanna credits Chow for being instrumental in her development as a well-rounded researcher. “Our education extended well outside of the lab. Christine used the Detroit setting to introduce us to new foods and cultures, and even art through the Detroit Institute of Arts.”

Khanna says that one of her proudest moments as an graduate student was presenting her research in front of a large audience. After spending so much time on her research projects in the lab, "it was vindicating because people were excited about the sort of research that we were doing."

When asked what advice she could give current students, Khanna suggests getting an early start on research in a lab that excites them. "Where you end up in the future is dependent on you,” she says. “There are plenty of wonderful opportunities at Wayne State. It doesn't matter what school you come from to be really great. Work hard, focus and enjoy the journey and you will do well."

By Anne Okonowski, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Development Writer