CURF: Causes of Obesity

Hello! My name is Suchita Kumar, and I am a senior at Pitt this year. I am a Biological Sciences major with minors in Sociology and Chemistry. I am interested in learning about human behavior and function on a micro and macro level through my classes, research, and other extracurriculars. Outside of academics, I currently serve as president of Asha For Education, an organization dedicated to supporting increased access to education for underprivileged children in India through fundraising and advocacy efforts.

My research mentor is Sadeesh Ramakrishnan, and our lab is located in the Department of Endocrinology. My project is about beige adipocytes, which are involved in energy homeostasis within the body through the dissipation of heat. We specifically focus on transcription factors and ketone bodies; these two elements play a key role in recruiting and inducing beige adipocyte-related genes and their expression. Our project’s main goal is to discover the mechanism of beige induction by exploring the interactions of transcription factors & ketone bodies and observing their effects on gene expression and heat dissipation, especially because specific target genes & upstream regulators for these beige genes are still unknown. With this knowledge, we can create & implement ideas to decrease the rate of obesity. This could have a major effect within the public health & healthcare field, since obesity currently affects about 18% of children and 42% of adults in the US, but these rates are on the rise.

My current goals are to become a more engaging researcher and inspired student. In terms of research, this means discussing possible avenues of exploration with my research PI, gaining more exposure to wet-lab procedures, and developing a deeper understanding of our research and how it can impact different communities. In terms of being a student, this means taking classes that further my understanding of different fields of biology and allow me to explore interests outside of that (like sociology, public health, and creative writing!). After graduation, I hope to continue my education and research, and find a career within the intersection of health and technology. I believe CURF is a great experience to help me pursue these goals because it allows me to play an active role in planning & executing my own research methods, and allow me opportunities to share my experience & findings with peers and meet new professionals in the field. This experience would shape me into a more confident researcher and problem solver; such skills can also transfer into and enhance other areas of my life!

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