I ran several lifespan studies on C. elegans in Dr. Jan Gruber’s lab during the summer of 2015 and the first semester of the 2015/2016 academic year. In the lab, I tested different drugs including mianserin and aspirin and how they affect the worm’s lifespan. Working with these nematode worms is not that difficult once you get the hang of using the worm-pick to move them around but it is very tedious, especially when you have to transfer over 300 worms in one day or prepare agar plates. I enjoyed working under one of Dr. Gruber’s PhD students and running these lifespan studies for him but I know now that I also want to be part of the research formulation and data analysis processes as well. Overall, it was a very enriching experience which helped me to really sort out my interests.
My current research involves studying the coloration of the fruit of the Blue Marble Tree (Elaeocarpus angustifolius). The iridescent color of the fruit arises due to the scattering of light by microscopic structures in the fruit. Through electron micrography and spectroscopic analysis, we are able to characterise the nanostructures that give this fruit its unique color.
I have been working with Professor Jan Gruber since freshman year conducting research on the mechanisms of aging in the nematode C. elegans. In brief, I’m piqued by the physiological and biochemical differences between genetically identical twins as they age. This provides clues to the intrinsic molecular mechanisms that govern healthy aging. My research experience with Professor Gruber has been eye-opening as it helped develop my passion for research while also guiding my research interests.
During my first and second years, I worked with Prof. Jan Gruber and his lab members on testing a novel strain of the C. elegans worm on its suitability in modelling the late-onset changes of Alzheimer’s Disease. My work included conducting and scoring a food-race assay to examine sensorimotor dysfunction in this strain C. elegans strain. After the conclusion of that project, I am now working with Prof. Ajay Mathuru on the genetic basis of substance addiction in D. rerio, more commonly known as the zebrafish. This experience has given me greater confidence in carrying a research project from start to finish: crafting a research question, reviewing the existing literature to find out what is already known, designing experiments to investigate further, and adapting to the direction of my results along the way.