Mentor: Dr. Susan Semple-Rowland
College of Medicine
"I applied to the University Scholars Program in hopes of furthering the research that I already have been involved in for the past years. I desired the chance to follow a specific project from inception to completion, with the ability to present a poster with my findings as well as write a journal-level paper. By integrating these aspects into my research experience, I hope to develop a greater understanding of the full breadth of the research experience and to solve a specific problem, revealing more information about the circadian clocks."
Music Theory and Literature
University Scholars Program Scholarship, 2012-2013
McLaughlin Scholarship, 2012
Anderson Award of Highest Distinction, 2011
Golden Key Study Abroad Scholarship, 2011
Wentworth Scholarship, 2010
- Golden Key Honors Society
- North Florida Regional Medical Center
- Campus Crusade for Christ
Hobbies and Interests
- Playing piano, guitar, and trombone
Determining the Role of Ga-11 in Photoreceptor-Driven Circadian Rhythms
The maintenance of stable circadian rhythms is crucial to an organism’s ability to anticipate the future and adjust behaviors accordingly. While most circadian study examines the suprachiasmatic nucleus, recent findings suggest that photoreceptors within neural retina also contain independent circadian oscillators. This study seeks to characterize the proteins that participate in the circadian entrainment process uniquely in the photoreceptors. The Rowland lab hypothesizes that a certain G-protein, Ga-11, plays a crucial role in entraining the photoreceptors’ clocks to the light-dark signals, and thus in developing a useful and stable rhythm. We hope to culture dissected embryonic chicken retina in a novel technique by inducing the aggregation of retinal spheroids. We will express muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in the culture via electroporation and viral transfection and stimulate the receptors with an agonist. We expect to see melatonin levels, a signal for circadian rhythms, shift in response to the agonist. With circadian defects causing such varied problems as emotional disorders, insomnia, other abnormal sleep patterns, and even cancer, a better understanding of the proteins involved in producing such rhythms is crucial to more precise and specific pharmaceutical and gene therapy treatments.