2021-22 Undergraduate Research Award Recipients

Congrats to Dr. Toth, Dr. Silvestrini, and their students their Undergraduate Research Awards! Read about the Biology projects funded below, and award recipients from other departments here.

Kevin Ly '23 profile
Zachary Medeiros '22

The localization of TMBI-4 in C. elegans
Kevin Ly ’22, Biology and Psychology
Edy Pineda ’22, Biology
Zachary Mederios ’22, Biology and Health Policy and Management
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Melissa Silvestrini, Biology
The goal of our research is to understand the cellular and genetic pathways that underlie aging. We use C. elegans as an ideal model to study the genetics of aging due to its short life cycle, transparent body, and easy maintenance in the lab. Various disorders that are linked to tmbi-4 mutations include the metabolic syndrome of aging, autophagy, and neurodegenerative disorders. Currently, there is no published data on the localization of TMBI-4 in C. elegans tissue. Using fluorescence microscopy, we will determine where TMBI-4 is found in the cell. This will provide more insight into the function of TBMI-4 in C. elegans. Our research may be useful to develop gene-targeting therapies that can be translated towards mammalian organisms, ideally to improve the quality of life of the aging population.

Courtney Caccia '22

Differentiation and Maturation of Cerebral Organoids from APOE3/APOE4 Stem Cell Lines
Christopher Walsh ’23, Biology and Psychology
Hayden Lens ’23, Biology
Morgan Kruzan ’23, Biology
Isabella Glennon ’25, Biochemistry (pictured right)
Courtney Caccia, ’22, Biology and Psychology (pictured left)
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Charles Toth, Biology
This research aims to develop 3-D human stem cell models that can be used to study Alzheimer’s Disease. The project focuses on growing cerebral organoids, which share similar properties to normal brain development and function. We will be expanding upon the research from several labs from the past five years to help understand the mechanism of this complex disease. 3-D models are an important way to study neurological disorders because they can be used to examine possible drugs to treat the causes of many neurological diseases. These organoids will be generated using induced pluripotent stem cell lines (iPSCs) which will examine a gene considered a high-risk factor for the development of sporadic AD.

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