Student Research Profile: Seong Hwang

Seong devoted many hours to a study of Alzheimer’s disease.

Seong devoted many hours to a study of Alzheimer’s disease.

Meet Seong Hwang, a senior biology major. Last summer, Seong conducted research out of PUC’s very own Clark Hall microbiology lab. After college, he plans to go on to dental school.

Tell us about your research.

I participated in research that studied of how over consumption of food could expedite the process of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, I also learned to grow and proliferate C. elegans in their respective medium to be tested for research.

What did you learn during your research?

Although my colleagues and I failed to get the consistency in our data, I learned to formulate ideas to arrange the procedure for the particular experiment. I also learned the behavior and life stage of C. elegans. In addition, working with my colleagues also helped me to understand about teamwork and how fun it is to be in lab.

How did PUC help prepare you for this experience?

At PUC, there are many great professors who have many years of research experience. When I had hard time figuring out the procedure for the research, Dr. Sung not only sent me helpful articles but also spent many hours with me in the lab teaching me how to use research tools in the microbiology lab for the experiments. Unlike big universities, many professors at PUC are willing to help students in their research, so don’t waste the opportunities you have as a biology or environmental studies major.

To learn more about biology at PUC, visit the department of biology website

Student Research Profile: Erika Thalman and Emily Castellanos

Emily and Erika collaborated with Dr. Floyd Hayes on a study of two bird species native to Paraguay.

Emily and Erika collaborated with Dr. Floyd Hayes on a study of two bird species native to Paraguay.

Meet Erika Thalman and Emily Castellanos, both junior biology majors. Last summer, they conducted research in various locations in the South American country of Paraguay. After PUC, Erika plans to go into the field of marine biology and eventually obtain a master’s degree, while Emily plans to go to veterinary school and become a wildlife veterinarian. 

Tell us about your research.

 We participated in a research project led by Dr. Hayes where we studied the calls of two birds, the Chaco nothura and the spotted nothura. We then compared the two birds calls to see how similar their call songs were and whether this suggest whether they could be the same or different species. In the field research portion we helped scout for the birds and recorded data and the field conditions while our guide operated the bird call recording equipment. Once we got back to school we edited the bird calls and analyzed the call sonograms to compare the vocal differences.

What did you learn during your research?

Erika: Before this trip I didn’t realize how much communication and collaboration with others takes place before, during, and after a project. I also learned it’s important to have a backup plan for a project in case something doesn’t go according to the original plan, such as if the research subjects are difficult to find or if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Emily: Following a lot of what Erika said, I also learned how to use previously recorded bird calls to initiate a response from a desired species as well as how much planning it takes before you can actually execute the methods for research.

How did PUC help prepare you for this experience?

Erika: Biological Foundations 113 lab really helped prepare me for research because it introduced me in how to design and carry out a research experiment and was reinforced by the Introduction to Research Methods course.

Emily: The class that really helped in preparing me for this trip was Introduction to Research Methods as it taught me how to construct and write about a research topic I make up myself. Other courses that really enhanced my experience were Ecology because it taught me various factors about animal distribution as well as environmental factors and Vertebrate Biology because of the bird section that is during the class.

To learn more about biology at PUC, visit the department of biology website

Student Research Profile: Daniel Newport

Daniel Newport studied the effect of chlorogenic acid on C. elegans lifespan.

Daniel studied the effect of chlorogenic acid on C. elegans lifespan.

Meet Daniel Newport, a senior biology major. Last summer, Daniel conducted research at PUC. He plans to attend graduate school at CSU East Bay for a master’s degree in cell and molecular biology.

Tell us about your research. 

I formulated and implemented a lifespan assay on Caenorhabditis elegans by exposing them to glucose, which shortens their lifespan. The goal of the study was to measure the effectiveness of the compound chlorogenic acid, an inhibitor of glucose absorption, in attenuating the effects of glucose on lifespan.  

What did you learn during your research?

I learned there is an immense amount of reading required in order to understand the basics of a topic, let alone enough obtain information to formulate an entire experiment. I had to read a handful of papers just to verify the correct volume of one reagent in my media. However, the process was extremely fun, because you gain so much information on cellular processes, common statistical methods, and cutting edge research in published journals. After a while you learn what questions haven’t been answered, and you begin thinking about how you can answer those questions yourself! Research can be long and tough, but implementing critical thought, controlling an experiment, and studying life was exhilarating.

How did PUC help prepare you for this experience?

Classes like Cell and Molecular Biology and Systems Physiology equipped me with a basic, yet cohesive understanding of cell, tissue, and organ mechanics I found invaluable. This gave me a hunger for more information on cell systems, and led me to ask serious questions to Drs. Wyrick and Sung. They were consistently available for ideas and help honing in on research topics; the magnum opus of the department of biology is the care and interest professors like Wyrick and Sung provide to students.

To learn more about biology at PUC, visit the department of biology website