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SRIA Scholars Conduct Research at the Mount During the Summer

Matthew Fraley
Graduate Assistant, School of Natural Science and Mathematics

Hacker feature

Researching under Assistant Professor Patrick Lombardi, Ph.D., Abigal Hacker sought to understand the ASCC2 DNA repair complex in order to “gain insight [into] alkylation-induced damage repair” and potentially provide ways to mitigate the effects of cancer and chemotherapy.

The School of Natural Science and Mathematics annually offers the SRIA, or Student Research Internship Award, program that gives selected students the opportunity to conduct research in university facilities over the summer. The students work closely with faculty advisors to gain an optimal research experience. SRIA scholars are carefully chosen based on a research proposal that the student submits to the dean of natural science and mathematics. Last summer four students conducted research on optogenetics, DNA repair and acoustic wave agitation.

chardane-logan-1.jpgChardane Logan

Chardane Logan worked with Assistant Psychology Professor Angy Kallarackal, Ph.D., to study creating a memory using optogenetics. Optogenetics is a biological technique that involves using light to control neurons that have been modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. She shared that her research helped her to grow in "confidence and resilience” through voicing her opinions and honing her skills in handling the subjects during the study. She also said that her growth in confidence and resilience will benefit her greatly as she continues to conduct research heading into graduate school.

 

Abigail Hacker

Abigail Hacker researched under Assistant Chemistry Professor Patrick Lombardi, Ph.D., on the topic  of determining the structural basis of ASCC2 selectivity. Her research was designed to understand ASCC2 DNA repair complex in order to “gain insight [into] alkylation-induced damage repair” and potentially provide ways to mitigate the effects of cancer and chemotherapy. “While this experience has strengthened my prior knowledge, it has also challenged me to understand and accomplish tasks that I have never faced before,” Hacker said. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Doctorate of Medicine, and this research experience helped build toward that goal. “This internship has also allowed me to build my resume and pursue future fellowships to further my knowledge of the biochemical and medical fields,” she said.

lauren-gray-1.jpgLauren Gray

In also working with Professor Lombardi, Lauren Gray studied how cells repair DNA damage. Gray’s research involved many new techniques for her research topic,  including DNA mutagenesis, protein purification, and isothermal titration calorimetry. "Experiencing the day-to-day rigors of a lab helped me to prepare for a promising career in science and affirmed that I do want to work in a lab in my professional career,” Gray said. “The SRIA award also gave me an authentic laboratory experience that I would not have been able to receive elsewhere.”

Rene Plascencia

Rene Plascencia researched under Assistant Chemistry Professor Garth Patterson, Ph.D., to study acoustic wave agitation of samples for use in DESI MS. In order to conduct his study, Rene developed 3D printed prototypes of various horn designs to research acoustic wave agitation. “This research internship gave great insight into how the various fields of science often overlap,” Plascencia said. “Working through challenges showed me how important constant ingenuity and creativity is in order to achieve a concept that can then be ultimately tested for research.”

Matthew Fraley
Graduate Assistant, School of Natural Science and Mathematics