Spring 2023 CURF #1


Hi all, I’m Evan Sun! I’m currently a sophomore studying molecular biology with minors in chemistry and Chinese. When I’m not in classes or doing coursework, I like to play (and lose at) badminton and practice viola. I also enjoy playing video games and card games with my friends. Oh, and the lab as well. I enjoy that.

I first joined the Rebeiz lab (headed by Dr. Mark Rebeiz) about a year ago, and back then, I worked on dissecting fruit flies to get some fun imaging data. I was mentored by a Ph.D. student, Ivan Mendez, who helped me immensely through learning protocols and techniques, and, more importantly, taught me how to think like a scientist. Since Ivan has since graduated, I am working with Dr. Rebeiz on my current project. My central question is this: How are genes orchestrated to create the color patterns we see on the fruit fly? Different genes create different hues: black, tan, yellow, white. I am interested in how these genes are controlled – why are upper abdomen cells yellow while the lower ones are black? In my project, I want to identify gene regulatory sequences, that is, DNA code which doesn’t bother itself with making traits but rather tells surrounding genes what to do. Despite being inexcusably lazy, the mechanisms of these regulatory sequences are a major part of what creates the infinite diversity of nature.

My plan for this semester is to set up and analyze my transgenic reporter assays. That is essentially a method to locate gene regulators and form predictions about their actual mechanisms within the fruit fly. Right now, most of my work is about building artificial DNA sequences inside of test tubes with the goal of incorporating this foreign DNA into fruit flies. In a month or so, I hope to be starting dissections and performing some imaging analysis.

Once I’m finished with the experimental portion of my project, my ambition is to write a paper and get it published in a journal. That is still in the distant future, with many unexpected twists and turns ahead, I’m sure. In terms of my career, my (highly original) goal is to become a physician. However, I am laying my roots in research and intend for it to remain a central focus of my career. Having read others’ CURF blog posts, I can see that other students are also reaching for a future with research. Doing research as an undergrad is so often isolated, but CURF provides a way to see and relate to my peers’ astounding work.

Leave a Reply