Valerie Garcia writes about biology summer research experience

The High School for Math, Science & Engineer graduate reflects on a summer of learning

Related Media

Valerie Garcia ’15 and Brandon Cope ’15 are biology interns funded by the National Institutes of Health.

HAMILTON, NY (07/29/2013)(readMedia)-- (Note: This post was written by Valerie Garcia '15 and Brandon Cope '15)

This summer we are working with Professor Ken Belanger investigating nuclear transport of proteins in yeast cells, seeking to better understand how a cell regulates the movement of materials in and out of its nucleus. This paid research internship started in late May and will take us into early August, and is funded by a research grant to Colgate from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Along with working in the lab, we have also presented our research topic to the other summer undergraduate researchers and professors; our summer research will culminate in a final poster presentation to the biology department during our last week in lab.

As far as our research is concerned, we are researching nuclear pore complexes (NPCs), large protein structures within the nuclear envelope that mediate the transport of proteins, RNAs, and other molecules between the cytoplasm and nucleus. To determine how the NPC works, we are investigating the rate of import into the nucleus of a specific protein (Crz1) while altering other specific proteins (nucleoporins) found within the NPC.

We are doing this by tagging Crz1 with a fluorescent protein that allows us to visualize the location of Crz1 using a fluorescent microscope. By analyzing different yeast mutants, each with different mutant nucleoporins, we hope to understand which aspects of the NPC are important for transport of proteins from the cytoplasm into the nucleus.

Our time here on campus allows us to experience other aspects of Hamilton that we would not be able to experience during the academic year. We also meet a lot of other students and faculty that are on campus during the summer and who share similar interests. We encourage students who are interested in science research to take advantage of this opportunity, as it can be both a useful learning experience, as well as an introduction to the field of research as a profession.

This summer research opportunity will help us to determine whether science research is the right option for our careers.