Research: Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Along with the support of CURF, I was able to concentrate on my research in the Dixon lab. It has given me the flexibility to make a research plan for my thesis project and execute it. This semester I honed my wet-lab skills and became comfortable with the techniques such as ELISA and western blots. This is important as it requires accuracy to get consistent results and good data that can be published. My project has three cohorts of rats in total and this semester I worked on getting data from one. Some skills I worked on this semester are troubleshooting experiments, processing brain tissue to make samples, testing antibodies for western blots, and analyzing behavioral data. Experiments do not always work out, and that’s okay. Protocols are tried and true methods of doing an experiment – but as a scientist, you always optimize the protocol based on your need. For example, my ELISA kit was designed for CSF samples. I am using serum samples. By following the protocol exactly, I did not get great results since my protein was less concentrated in serum, as compared to CSF. Thus, I decided to up my sample volume to optimize my experiment.

Since I am blinded to my study, I can not explain the results yet, however, this is something I will be working on next semester. Along with working on my experiments, I also was reading a lot of papers on my protein of interest, to conduct an extensive study for my thesis writing. I have studied the use of my protein of interest in other diseases too, which tells me the general roles of the protein. Starting January 2022, I will be writing my Bachelor of Philosophy thesis in preparation for my defense scheduled in April. I will also continue my experiments for the remaining cohorts and analyze my data altogether to reach conclusions from my study.

My particular research project is to evaluate the use of a biomarker for traumatic brain injury and its predictive value for cognitive function. I believe that it is important to get a holistic view of a disease so we can get as much information on the mechanism of proteins. Along with conducting molecular experiments, I will analyze behavioral data to correlate the two. Since I am a senior, I graduate next semester and I hope to continue my research as a graduate student. I have enjoyed reading blogs from other students and learning about their research experiences this semester. Feel free to comment with any questions you may have about my research!

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