Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Biology

Belfort Lab

Lab Website

Our research explores the dynamics of elements that interrupt genes, introns and inteins. We study their basic properties of structure, function and regulation, and their applications in biotechnology and infectious disease.

The Agris Laboratory

Lab Website

Research interests: Structure/function relationships of nucleic acids, RNA-targeted drug discovery, Novel RNA-based antimicrobial targets, Roles of modified nucleosides in tRNA, Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) of RNA, RNA-RNA and RNA-protein interactions

Shi Laboratory

Lab Website

Areas of interest: molecular and cellular biology of transcription and signal transduction, aptamer-mediated multi-pathway control in living cells and organisms, and drug discovery and development for cancer

Sammons Lab

Lab Website

Our lab studies how transcription factors decode and transmit information stored on DNA. We are particularly interested in how one such transcription factor, p53, reads DNA information in the context of chromatin/DNA structure. p53 is the most commonly mutated gene in cancer, and loss of p53 activity is the strongest predictor of cancer development in mammalian systems, including humans. We use genetic, molecular, and genomic technologies to explore the relationship between how DNA information is stored and how that information is read and acted upon by the p53 transcription factor.

Rangan Lab

Lab Website

The goal of the Rangan Laboratory is to understand how a stem cell fate is initiated, maintained and terminated. Stem cells have the capacity to both self-renew and differentiate. Improper differentiation or self-renewal of stem cells can result in a loss of homeostasis, which has been implicated in human afflictions such as cancer and degenerative diseases.

Fuchs Laboratory

Lab Website

My lab is interested in the following questions: How is ribosome composition altered in cells during stress and during a viral infection? How does ribosome composition regulate how much and which proteins are synthesized? Are ribosomes in cancer cells different from ribosomes in healthy cells? Cab we use ribosome modifications to identify novel biomarkers for early cancer detection?

Forni Lab

Lab Website

Correct development of the nose is necessary for detection of environmental odorants but is also crucial for maturation and function of the reproductive system. In fact, during embryonic development a population of neurons, called gonadotropin-releasing hormone-1 neurons (GnRH-1), migrate from the nose to the brain. Once in the brain, these neurons control the reproductive axis. Genetic defects that affect the formation of the nasal/olfactory structures, as well as migration, survival and/or function of GnRH-1 neurons lead to aberrant sexual development and sterility. Our understanding of who are the stem cells and what is the embryonic origin in the developing nose has only recently began, which leaves many blanks yet to be filled.

The Chen Laboratory

Lab Website

Ion channels are membrane proteins which allow ions across cell membranes in response to physical and/or chemical stimulations. They play a key role in electrical signaling of excitable cells such as neurons and cardiac myocytes. Dysfunction of ion channels could cause human neuronal, muscular, and cardiac disorders such as arrhythmia and epilepsy. Our goals are to understand how several subfamilies of potassium channels are gated and regulated in physiological and pathological conditions.

Pager Lab

Lab Website

The Pager lab is interested in the interaction and mechanisms by which RNA viruses subvert the cellular RNA metabolism pathways. We are particularly intrigued by how flaviviruses such as hepatitis C virus and Dengue virus commandeer the host’s mRNA storage and decay machinery to successfully establish an infection.

Osuna Laboratory

Lab Website

Areas of interest: DNA binding and bending proteins, role of DksA in cellular response to nutritional stress, role of Fis in E. coli, genes subject to Fis regulation, and mechanisms of Fis regulation

The Lnenicka Lab

Lab Website

The synaptic connections between nerve cells can be strengthened by increased use; this synapse strengthening plays an important role in the development of the brain, and in learning and memory in the adult. We study activity-dependent synapse strengthening in the fruit fly (Drosophila) where synapses are identifiable, accessible and amenable to genetic manipulations. Much of our work focuses on the role of intracellular Ca2+ in synapse strengthening. The following techniques are used in these studies: changes in intracellular Ca2+ levels are measured with fluorescent Ca2+ indicators; Western blots and immunocytochemistry are used to measure activity-dependent changes in specific proteins at the synaptic terminals; the levels of specific proteins are altered using transgenic Drosophila; and synaptic function is assayed using electrophysiology.

The Li Lab

Lab Website

We study RNA folding and protein-RNA interaction one molecule at a time using optical tweezers technique

Larsen Lab

Lab Website

My lab is interested in deciphering the molecular mechanisms controlling branching morphogenesis, which is a process required for the development of many mammalian organs, including the lung, kidney, prostate, mammary glands, and salivary glands.

Wang Laboratory

Lab Website

I study experimental evolution by using microorganisms, particularly bacteriophage, as a model system. Currently my research focuses on two areas: (1) the genetic basis for the evolution of life history traits, with phage lambda as a model system, and (2) the identification of bacterial enzymes targeted by ssRNA phage lysis proteins.

Szaro Laboratory

Lab Website

Areas of interest: Developmental neurobiology, molecular neurobiology, neural regeneration, neurofilaments, axonal growth, and xenopus laevis embryology

Stewart Lab

Lab Website

My research program combines bioinformatic and molecular evolutionary methods to study the evolution of mammalian genes and genomes, with an emphasis on the primates. Our current projects include: (1) identifying genetic changes unique to the human and chimpanzee lineages; (2) understanding the genetic basis of SIV/HIV resistance in certain African primate species; and (3) studying the evolution of the lysozyme multigene family in the mammals, especially as related to fertilization. At present, our research is primarily computational.

The Scimemi Lab

Lab Website

In our lab, we are interested in understanding the functional properties of central synapses, the specialized structures that convert the electrical activity of a neuron into a chemical signal for its target cells. We want to understand how individual molecules are distributed within the synapse and how their spatial arrangement influences the properties of neurotransmitter release. We want to know how neurotransmitters diffuse outside of the synapse and generate long-distance signals to different cells. Our ultimate goal is to gain insights into the functional consequences of changes in synaptic function associated with the onset of different neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.