Major: Pre-professional biology
High School: Western (Las Vegas)
Research project: Transcriptome Analysis of Glue Secretion in Drosophila
Mentor: Andrew Andres, molecular genetics
What's a "Transcriptome Analysis of Glue Secretion in Drosophila"?
Steroid hormones control important developmental and physiological responses in animals, including humans. When a cell is exposed to a steroid hormone, there is an immediate change in the genes that are expressed into proteins. If we can identify these genes, we can understand how steroid hormones control physiological responses at the molecular level.
How do you do that?
The way a fruit fly responds to steroids is similar to the way a mammal responds to steroids at the molecular level. With the help of professor Andrew Andres, I will use the fruit fly system to identify steroid-regulated genes that control basic physiological responses. Any such genes identified will be compared to human databases for shared functionality.
Our lab has generated a database of the expressed genes from the salivary glands of fruit flies before and after hormone exposure. My role in the project was to search these 13,000 genes to select candidates for functional genetic tests.
How has the McNair program prepared you for your future career?
Through McNair I have been able to present my research throughout the U.S. I have also been able to attend workshops that provided me with valuable information about how to apply and be successful in graduate school. I found a mentor in professor Andres, who cares about my education and career goals and who really sees the potential in me. Additionally, I had the opportunity to publish a peer-reviewed article.
Has your perception of college changed as a result of the program?
My goal since graduating from Western High School in Las Vegas was to be a physician. This project is likely to prepare me for a new era of personalized medicine, where the physician examines the patient's genome to identify the most effective course of action to maintain good health.
I hoped that the McNair program would help me achieve my long-term professional goals, and so far it has greatly exceeded my expectations. It is a wonderful opportunity to work with the best minds in America and a privilege for undergrads that professors take the time to teach us what they know on a one-to-one basis.