The Start of a New Quarter

Winter break was such a blessing. After a hectic schedule, demanding courses, and research last quarter, it was a much needed escape from stress. It had been about a year and a half since I spent more than one consecutive night back home. Being able to see my family and spend time with them was so refreshing. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to be able to push past the stress of fall quarter, but winter break really allowed me to reset my brain and prepare for another round of new classes.

This next quarter should be a much needed improvement from last quarter. Genetics appears to be about the same intensity from genetics last quarter, but biochem actually is much more interesting than last quarter. Although I really enjoyed the material from the first class in the year-long series, I’d be stretching the truth if I said it was an easy class.

Even more so than my class schedule, I am very excited for my research this quarter. My past experiments seem to be narrowing in on really important components of ADPKD. Without being too specific, my graduate student mentor and I have been sorting through a number of different experimental results as well as data from other published papers to identify key proteins and transcription factors in the disease. Surprisingly, classes that I have taken in which I studied a different aspect of biology than what is specifically studied inWeimbs lab continue to show up in ADPKD. Concepts I have learned in biochemistry, genetics, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and developmental neurobiology seem to keep coming up in my research. I really enjoy how all different areas of my classroom learning are coming together to support my very specific research. I feel even more blessed to have an opportunity to conduct research because I believe that it is a part of an undergraduate experience that is lacking for most undergrads. Sometimes classroom learning seems confusing or even pointless. For example, concepts such as enzyme kinetics in biochemistry seem abstract unless they are practically applied. I believe that research is the practical aplication of those concepts. It unites and makes sense of all the confusing concepts that undergrads just accept as something the must memorize to receive a good grade. Without research experience, I feel that undergrads may get frustrated or loose sight of the big picture. I can’t wait to continue applying my new knowledge from this quarter to my research.

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Student Contributors
Alex Iteen is a second year student majoring in Biology. He is interested in bioengineering and synthetic biology. He is currently working in Dr. Fygenson's lab on DNA nanotubes.
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David Wallace is a third year student majoring in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. He is currently working in Professor Weimbs's lab studying the pathogenic mechanisms of Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD).
See all his posts

Eneida Chesnut is a senior majoring in chemical engineering. She transferred from SBCC, where she studied chemistry. She works with organic materials for solar cells and is very interested in renewable energy research.
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Erzsebet is a second year chemical engineering major. She is interested in biotechnology and biophysics, and is working in Professor David Awschalom's lab investigating how cephalopod skin responds to different types of stimulation by light.
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Madison Cornwell is a second year student majoring in Biochemistry and Spanish. She is a EUREKA intern through the California NanoSystems Institute and the Resident Assistant of the Women in Science and Technology House in Manzanita Village. She will be working closely with Dr. Kosik and graduate student Israel Hernandez for the remainder of her time at UCSB.
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