Research Scholars Spring 2017

Senior Research Scholars Spring 2017

Franchesca Ortega, Dr. Paul Bosland Lab

Franchesca Ortega

We are working on using DNA bar coding as a means of differentiating between cultivars of the species Capsicum annuum and Capsicum chinese, primarily focusing on using the internal transcribed spacer region of nuclear ribosomal DNA as a barcode, due to it’s frequent use in phylogenetic studies. Ultimately, we are looking to find a taxonomic clarification system to different accessions of chile pepper.







Aaron Rodriguez, Dr. Brad Shuster Lab

Aaron Rodriguez

My name is Aaron Rodriguez from Dr. Brad Shuster’s and I’ve been looking at factors that could be potential regulators of spindle orientation during cell division and early Sea Urchin embryo development. More specifically, my project has focused on a protein complex called the PAR complex. The PAR complex is comprised of the following proteins: cdc42, PAR 6, PAR 3, and aPKC. So far, I have used inhibitors that inhibit cdc42 and aPKC. I have cloned, protein induced, and purified a domain found in the PAR 3 protein called the CR1 domain. Future experiments will consist of knocking down the CR1 domain via micro-injections and protein inhibition.





Aldo Ramirez, Dr. Tim Wright Animal Behavior Lab

Urban and rural habitats can have many differences that contribute to genetic and behavioral differences in urban and rural ant colonies, such as resource availability and nest disturbance. Biological invasion has also been found to cause genetic and behavioral differences for some invasive ant species. I have been working on a project that looks for genetic differences in an ant species, and the effect these possible genetic differences can have on certain behaviors. Specifically, I have been comparing levels of intra-specific aggression and genetic diversity between urban and rural Pogonomyrmex rugosus ant colonies.

Aldo 3










Diego Quintana, Dr. Giancarlo Lopez-Martinez Lab

Diego 2

The project I am working on this summer is iirradiation (x-ray) hormesis in Drosophila melanogaster. Hormesis is benefitting from exposure to an agent in low dosages that would kill the organism at a greater dosage. We will be testing the degree flight ability, the survival rate from pupae to adult and the longevity of the flies changes after exposure to radiation. According to some similar studies, stressing adults and adolescents to stress can increase the life expectancy of some insects. We are expecting this to be the case in Drosophila melanogaster. The reason we are conducting this experiment is so we can apply it to a larger context in other organism.






Jacqueline Kieltyka, Dr. Kevin Houston Lab

Jacqueline Kieltyka

My project will involve studying Tamoxifen sensitivity in MCF-7 and MDA-MB 231 and 468 breast cancer cells. Cells will be treated with varying concentrations of glucose and Tamoxifen, as well as Metformin eventually (which has been shown to increase the effects of Tamoxifen as a cancer-killing agent). I hope to show and inverse relationship between glucose concentration and Tamoxifen. I will also show that the relationship between glucose and Tamoxifen occurs because of the correlation between GPER and Tamoxifen sensitivity, and use this finding to reinforce what we already know about the relationship between Tamoxifen sensitivity and expression of GPER.





Kimberly Apodaca, Dr. Champa Gopalan lab

Kimberly Apodaca

I work in Dr. Champa S. Gopalan’s lab. Using molecular biology techniques, I am working towards identifying if chile plants are genetically transformed. In doing so, I will be able to determine which plants may be resist to Phytophthora, a common water mold that is known to kill many crops. My research involves the insertion and expression of R-genes, or response genes, that are believed to be involved in a signal transduction pathway that leads to Phytophthora resistance.





Ryan Chan, Dr. Patricia Lodato Lab

Ryna Chan

My name is Ryan Chan and I work in the Lodato lab. Our research involves observation of growth in Enterohemorrhagic E. coli as well as their production of the Shiga toxin in search of antibiotic treatment. I am comparing the growth of the wild type E.coli to those with containing the rne-1 plasmid in environments of varying pH and IPTG concentration. Currently we are observing growth in biofilms made by E.coli to determine whether there is something of significance and whether it should be a target in antibiotics. Lather this summer there will be the incorporation of electromicroscopy to compare protein expression on the membrane of the two different strains of E.coli.






Dylan Gallegos, Dr. Kathy Hanley Lab

Dylan Gallegos

It is estimated that dengue effects 400 million people worldwide. To date there is no vaccines or anti-virals to treat the infected. My research project consist of determining what the mechanism is for which different strains of dengue are more infectious than others in the Aedes aegypti vector. I will be testing infection rates of different strains of dengue type 3 in mosquitoes in which the RNA interference pathway has been knocked down.RNAi is a component of the innate immune response of mosquitoes that may be a key player in strain displacement.







Lynsey Kovar, Dr. Donovan Bailey Lab

Lynsey Kovar

Bioinformatics, Leucaena mitochondrial genome comparisons, genome assembly.






Junior Research Scholars, Spring 2017                

Eliana Griego, Dr. Brad Shuster Lab

Mikayla Pulliam, Dr. Hollie Jacobs Lab

Clara Hansen, Dr. Tim Wright Lab

Alvaro Hobbs, Dr. Kevin Houston Lab

Angelique Amado, Dr. Feifei Li Lab

Gabriel Clark, Dr. Champa Gopalan Lab

Grace Hooks, Dr. Amanda Ashley Lab

Sydney Salas, Dr. Michele Nishiguchi Lab

Dante Avalos, Dr. Erik Yukl Lab

Patrick Kenney, Dr. Emily Indriolo Lab

Nubia Bermudez, Dr. Amanda Ashley/ Dr. Ryan Ashley Lab

Anthony Collin, Dr. Chris Cramer Lab

Valerie Brewer, Dr. Karen Mabry Lab

Cierrah Kassetas, Dr. Adam Summers Lab

Bahiyyih Mitchell, Dr. Graciela Unguez Lab

Nubia Rivas, Dr. Giancarlo Lopez-Martinez Lab

Addi Moya, Dr. Paola Mera Lab