Quantifying activity-induced enhancer dynamics during mammalian synaptogenesis


Engineering and Applied Sciences


Department of Bioengineering, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

Project Summary

PURM gave me an opportunity this summer to work with such an amazing group of intellectuals and explore my interests in research. I was able to do research in Dr. Jennifer Phillips-Cremins’ lab in the bioengineering department which focuses on the 3D genome. My project specifically involved writing code to analyze RNA-seq data and modifying other pieces of code to turn them into tools for the lab to use. I was also able to work on wet lab experiments with my mentor, Jonathan Beagan. 
This summer was a great exposure to get started with research. Initially, I was intimidated and nervous to do my own research because I had no experience. However, after a week of communicating with my mentor about the biological concepts and research processes, I had a better understanding moving forward. I realized that I was not expected to know everything when I first started. By asking questions and being engaged while doing research, I was able to learn a lot about the 3D genome. 
I was able to gain experience in almost every field in the lab. This includes running experiments, then visualizing, quantifying and publishing data. I learned how to work efficiently and safely in the biosafety cabinet and chemical fume hood to reduce error and contamination. On visualizing data, I viewed our RNA-seq data on the UCSC genome browser to analyze enhancer activity. Then, I used Python code to quantify and plot the data in graphs. I was also able to learn how figures are made in scientific papers. I used photoshop to generate some figures with plots and UCSC genome browser tracks. 
Research was an entirely new experience for me. I was able to get hands-on experience and finally apply what I learned from the classroom in my research.