Jessica Marz

Mentor: Dr. Habibeh Khoshbouei
College of Medicine
"I initially chose to become involved with research to explore my interest in science and medicine. After reading multiple peer-reviewed, scientific articles as a class assignment, I realized the immense capabilities that research has to offer. Over the past year, I have developed a deep passion for research and I am excited to continue conducting research as a University Scholar."


Microbiology & Cell Science


Communications Studies

Research Interests

  • Cell Cycle Regulatory Pathways
  • Human Disease
  • Drug Development

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program
  • UF Presidential Scholarship


  • UF Honors College
  • Delta Gamma
  • Golden Key International Honor Society


  • UF Health Shands Hospital
  • Dance Marathon
  • Habitat for Humanity

Hobbies and Interests

  • Ballet
  • Cooking
  • Running

Research Description

Alpha-synuclein elevation modulates activity of dopamine transporter in dopamine neurons.
Dopamine transporter (DAT) is a protein that regulates the activity of dopamine neurons in the brain. DAT is implicated in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric conditions such as drug addiction and Parkinson’s disease (PD). PD is characterized by loss of midbrain dopamine neurons. Increases in alpha-synuclein (αS) levels, a synaptic protein is implicated in the pathogenesis of PD. I am testing the hypothesis that αS elevation in DAT expressing neurons alters surface level and activity of DAT, thus, affecting metabolic cost of dopamine neurons, leading to their death. I will be using biochemistry and confocal microscopy to test this hypothesis. The findings of my study will potentially help to understand the mechanisms underlying the process of disease progression in Parkinson’s disease.​​