Uncovering the Neural Circuit Underlying Salt Taste Perception

Picture of a lab.




Assistant Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center

Project Summary

This past semester, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to perform research in the lab of Dr. Yali Zhang at Monell Chemical Sciences Center. My project involved using the fruit fly as an animal model to decipher the salt-preference regulatory circuit. During my time working on my project I learned various techniques such as how to perform assays, how to breed fly lines, how to dissect flies, as well as many other basic techniques such as DNA extraction and PCR that I know will be useful no matter what field of research I hope to pursue in the future.

Specifically, I enjoyed how many of the things I was concurrently learning in my physiology and genetics classes could be applied to the design of the research experiments that I was performing. It was a real world application of what I was learning in class that helped me solidify my understanding of how to create and execute biology experiments. As a result, I think that the most important lessons I have learned have not been about the specific techniques I have come to master for my experiments, but rather about how to think and act like a scientists; in other words, I think that this experience has allowed me to take one step further towards coming up with my own ideas and creating my own experiements.

Overall, I believe this research project allowed me to grow as not only a student, but most importantly as a scientist. It has laid the groundwork for future projects that I hope to pursue during my time at Penn as well as graduate school and beyond.