"I was urged to apply to the University Scholars Program by my mentor to better understand the research process. I hope that my experience allows me to obtain a comprehensive grasp of the intricacies associated with completing an experiment from start to finish, ultimately allowing me to become a more effective student and teacher. It is my desire to conclude my research with my findings being published in order to help fulfill my goal of attending graduate school."
Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- International Baccalaureate Diploma Recipient
- Dean's List
- Florida Bright Futures (2008)
- Core Concepts in Biomanufacturing and Quality Systems training certificate
- Estudiantes de la Plata (Argentina)
Work on regeneration with Ambystoma mexicanum, lab of Dr. Malcolm Maden.
Hobbies and Interests
- Watching and playing soccer, reading science fiction, and playing with my Australian Cattle dog.
Putative Peroxidase Genes in Arabidopsis Thaliana
Unfavorable environmental conditions are especially deleterious to plants because of their immobility. Plants have undergone evolution and exhibit physiological adaptations to cope with various states of environmental stress, optimizing their relationship between survival and reproduction. When water stressed, Arabidopsis thaliana exhibits heightened rates of seed failure. A correlation exists between these rates and the buildup of reactive oxygen species; ROS have also been shown to initiate cell death in various species. When salt-stressed, three putative peroxidase genes – PER17, PER28, and PER29 – become differentially expressed. Mutants of these genes display both reduced fertility and higher accumulation of reactive oxygen species in the ovules in comparison to the wild type. It is therefore the goal of my research to determine whether these proteins exhibit peroxidase activity and function to regulate ROS levels, ultimately affecting the fertility of Arabidopsis thaliana. Because plants share mechanisms to cope with stress, this research will shed light on seed failure in many species. Furthermore, one of the genes lacks a canonical heme-binding domain and would subsequently be predicted to lack biochemical activity. Fertility assays previously conducted, however, show that the loss of any of these genes significantly lowers seed set. My research will elucidate this discrepancy between what is expected and what is observed. Enzymatic activity will be determined in vitro by recombinant proteins expressed via Escherichia coli. Myc and His tags will be fused onto the gene of interest; a Myc tag for immunoblotting, or detection of the target protein, and a His tag for purification via an affinity column. A biochemical assay consisting of Amplex Red, a fluorescent probe used to detect hydrogen peroxides, will be used to determine the functional activity of the putative peroxidases. Enyzme kinetics will be determined to reveal the physiological function of these proteins during seed development.