Annalie Martin (CELL) grew up in a family that encouraged curiosity, propagated the value of education, and cared for the welfare of others. Her mother had lived in Africa and wanted her kids to experience living in an area where they were the minority. So, the family moved to Belize, where her parents ran a local school out of a church building, and her mom offered education for women in the Mayan villages.
“Because I was the youngest [child], I went with my mom to the villages most of the time,” Martin says. “Her biggest focus was literacy, so she taught Mayan kids how to read and write.” Little did Martin know that watching her mother share her passion for education had planted a seed that would germinate through Martin's education and ignite her desire to become a professor to research, teach, and mentor.
In every house Martin lived in, her parents allowed her to set up a small “lab,” which inspired her dream to study science. Martin has been living her dream as she earned her undergraduate degree in developmental biology from Utah Valley University. Now, she's in her fourth year of BYU’s cell biology PhD program, working in Dr. Arminda Suli’s developmental neuroscience lab. Martin is a shining light in the lab and has become critical to the success of other graduate and undergraduate students.
Martin’s lab observes neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. There are many causes for autism, both genetic and environmental. The variety of autism cases makes it hard to study, according to Martin. “There are people with autism who have severe social anxiety, and there are those who are nonverbal,” Martin explains. She wants to use her research to help identify the types of brain development that lead to autism to facilitate more treatment options.
“What I’ve really liked about research is being able to take the concepts I’ve learned in class and apply them to actual problems,” Martin says. “Anyone can memorize things, but being able to look at, manipulate, and study biological concepts has been my favorite part of developmental biology.”
After graduating, Martin hopes to have a career in science: “I’m really passionate about science and education. I feel like while not everyone is a scientist, everyone is capable of becoming scientifically literate, and I’d like to be a part of teaching that.” She dreams of conducting research and lecturing at a university that allows her to guide students in their own research.
Martin is from southwestern Colorado. She married her husband in 2011. They love board games, especially ones that involve deck building. When she’s not working in the lab, Martin takes advantage of Utah’s beautiful scenery. She and her husband love hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park and Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove. Before she leaves Utah, Martin’s goal is to hike Timpanogos and tour the Timpanogos cave.