Gene-edited NIH-3T3 Fibroblast Cells | Credit: B. Fletcher & B. Wong | September 30th, 2019

Plan. Execute. Fail & Try Again.

To me, conducting scientific and engineering research is the perfect example of exploring into the unknown. For every experimental “success,” I’ve experienced countless failures and troubleshooted experiments for many, many hours.

However, the transferable skills I’ve developed and the valuable experiences that I’ve gained over the last four years in three different labs have made me appreciate the facts and figures I find in my biology textbooks.

Vanderbilt University

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai

Department of Pharmacology

University of Washington, Seattle

Department of Chemical Engineering

NANOPARTICLES & GENE EDITING

Department of Biomedical Engineering

PI: Craig Duvall, Ph.D. | Mentor: Brock Fletcher (NSF Fellow)

I. Gene-Editing Cell Lines with CRISPR-Cas9

 Successfully gene-edited NIH3T3 cells with the mT/mG plasmid [Credit: B. Fletcher & B. Wong]

 Poster presented at the Fall 2019 Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Symposium.

 

II. Porous Silicon Nanoparticles: DNA Delivery (CURRENT PROJECT)

NANOPARTICLE BEHAVIOR IN THE BRAIN

Nance Lab | Department of Chemical Engineering

PI: Elizabeth Nance, Ph.D. | Mentor: Chad Curtis, Ph.D.

Research Publication 

Under the mentorship of Dr. Nance and Dr. Curtis, I spearheaded the laboratory’s initial investigations into nanoparticle behavior in a simulated brain microenvironment to demonstrate that polymeric functionalization is required to achieve colloidal stability for future therapeutic applications.

Our work resulted in a publication in Colloids & Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, which can be viewed by clicking on the article to the left.

Research Poster from Labwork Completed in Summer 2016

Contributers: E. Nance & C. Curtis

INVESTIGATING AUTOPHAGY

Lazarus Lab | Department of Pharmacological Sciences

PI: Michael Lazarus, Ph.D. | Mentors: Susmita Khamrui, Ph.D. & Cody Secor

With Professor Lazarus, Dr. Khamrui, and Mr. Secor, I developed structural biology techniques (i.e. cell culture, bacterial transformation, protein purification, etc.) in their efforts to characterize the structure of the unc-51 like kinase 4 (ULK4), a protein linked to schizophrenia. 

Alongside my labwork, I conducted an independent literature review on cellular autophagy, which involves a kinase that is in the same family as ULK4. This reviewed over 50 journal articles to understand the cellular importance of the autophagy pathway and the applications of inhibiting autophagy for cancer therapeutics.

Recently, the Lazarus Lab published an article titled High-Resolution Structure and Inhibition of the Schizophrenia-Linked Pseudokinase ULK4 in The Journal of the American Chemical Society (2020).