"I applied to the University Scholars Program so that I could practice how to apply for, receive, and utilize grants for scientific research. In addition, this program gives me the opportunity to practice presenting my project, which is a useful tool to master for my ideally long life in medical research and academia. My goal for the academic year is to have a solid understanding of the complex interplay between various proteins and DNA, and to increase my arsenal of research methods utilized in the fields of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Linguistics."
Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Spanish
Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Nucleic Acid Chemistry, Linguistics, Astronomy, and creative writing.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science for Life (2010)
- HHMI Travel Grant (2011)
- Indian Cultural Dance Team GatoRaas (2010)
- Biochemistry Lab
- Linguistic Lab
- Spanish Tutor
- Alachua County Astronomy Club
Currently I am not involved in volunteer work, but I have volunteered with Shands of Jacksonville in the past.
Hobbies and Interests
- Reading, rock climbing, outdoor activities, hiking, and camping.
Actin Remodeling Via Cell Penetrating Peptide
Recent studies in the field of protein chemistry have highlighted the biological importance of peptides and how they can play critical roles in influencing the outcomes of various pathologies. In terms of cancer studies, one important aspect that is considered in this research project is the role of GW-182, a peptide sequence of a protein that regulates gene expression within cells at a post-transcriptional level by localizing with cytoplasmic structures involved in the RNA silencing complex. This project tests the hypothesis that the GW-182 peptide can penetrate the cell membrane, and bind to filamentous-actin (F-actin) in vitro, which can be visualized using confocal microscopy. Actin and microtubules are part of the cells’ cytoskeleton and are responsible for cell motility when coupled with depolymerization and polymerization—a process known as treadmilling. Cell motility is particularly relevant to cancer research, because the difference between a malignant tumor and a benign tumor is that the malignant one is capable of movement, consequently spreading to other parts of the body, which in many cases can be fatal. Actin binding will be determined using Anisotropy techniques that measure the change in rotational diffusion of fluorescent-labeled actin and GW-182 peptide using a fluorometer. The peptide’s ability to penetrate HeLa cells’ membranes will be determined using Confocal Microscopy methods. In addition to these experiments, the effectiveness of the peptide to limit cell motility will be determined through a cell migration and wound healing assay. Finally, cytotoxicity will be examined using an Annexin V assay, which tags cells undergoing apoptosis with an Annexin V fluorescent protein, which can then be visualized using confocal microscopy. The results from these experiments will elucidate GW-182’s effects as a potential cancer treatment. By restricting the mobility of a malignant tumor, it can be removed in a manner akin to a benign one.