Mentor: Dr. Stuart McDaniel
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"Several things happened in my life leading me towards the path of research. A few highlights include having an innately curious mind with an uninhibited quality of questioning everything. Coupled with an urge to tinker, I discovered a desire to research, plan and execute projects. I derive great satisfaction from this sense of accomplishment. After high school, I flirted with community college while working to pay bills. Money seemed to have a more direct reward than pursuing an education towards a future I was uncertain about. I had not traveled at all and I grew restless. I went to work for Bahamas’ Sailing Adventures assisting with charters and boat repossessions all around the Southeastern United States into the Caribbean and Mexican Gulf Coast. My eyes grew wide as the world opened up. I wanted a larger view. Next, a friend and I purchased a used school bus, turned it into a sailboat-esque motorhome, and converted it to run on used vegetable oil. We drove around. We picked up friends and took them with us. The bus drew attention. I met people and was invited places. I lived! During a visit to the Aprovecho Sustainability Education Center in Oregon, I met biologists for the first time in my life. I loved them. After a few more rounds with life, I made it back to college in the pursuit of the life of a scientist. Here I am."
Microbiology & Cell Science
- Genetic Engineering
- Synthetic Biology
- Cell re-programming
- University Scholars Program Scholarship
- AA degree with Honors from Sante Fe College
- Great Lakes National Scholarship
- Florida Community College Press Association Newspaper Competition First Place, Picture Story and Design – Division A.
- Graphic design work for American Cancer Society of Bradenton FL.
- Collect and distribute school supplies to Andros Island Bahamas
Hobbies and Interests
- Aquaponics, Hydroponics, Composting, and Gardening
- Rock Climbing
Creation and phenotypic comparison of Rgh3 transgenic Physcomitrella Patens
A central problem in developmental biology is to understand how proteins control cell division and differentiation. Cell proliferation is necessary for growth, but over-proliferation can cause tumors that can be lethal. The Settles laboratory in the Horticulture Department at UF has identified a protein called rough endosperm3 (rgh3) in maize that controls cell differentiation and proliferation. Interestingly, mutations in the same protein in humans are associated with some cancers. These observations suggest that rgh3 may play an important role in development in many eukaryotes. As part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between the McDaniel and Settles labs to understand rgh3, I will generate and evaluate transgenic moss in the McDaniel lab. The Settles lab will prepare a circular piece of DNA called a plasmid that contains modified transgenes of rgh3 that we want to study. Once we have this plasmid, I will use bacteria to copy it creating large quantities of our modified DNA. I will then isolate this DNA and insert it into the moss genome. After completing this process, I will grow our newly modified P. patens under selective conditions that will allow me to easily identify the successfully transformed moss cells. I am already conducting tissue culture of wild-type and transformed P. patens cultures in the McDaniel lab. Over the course of the project, in addition to generating new transgenics, I will compare the phenotype of the transgenics to the original wild type that has not been modified to evaluate the effect of the rgh3 mutants.