Student Research Profile: Jessica Edens

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

My name is Jessica Edens, and I’m a senior environmental studies major. After graduation from PUC, I plan to pursue law school and get my J.D.

What did you do?

My internship is with the Bureau of Reclamation within the Department of Interior as a park ranger. While there are many duties, one is working with local non-profits and other organizations to educate youth groups or perform community outreach programs. There are a lot of natural resource activities involved, like trail building and maintenance, invasive species prevention program for quagga and zebra mussels, re-planting of native trees, conservation, and water management.

When and where did you do this work?

My internship is at Lake Berryessa, California. I have worked there since July 2018.

What did you learn?

A big part of being a park ranger is working with the environment while educating people in the hopes of creating or maintaining good conservation practices. It’s trying to spread the idea we only have one earth and we should be preserving what we have.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

Being an environmental studies major, I took a lot of classes about biology and the environment. There were many classes I took at PUC I am able to use in this internship. So much of the material and topics I learned in the classroom have proven invaluable in aiding my ability to speak knowledgeably on a subject.

Student Research Profile: Emma Payne

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

My name is Emma Payne, and I am a biochemistry major looking to go into biomedical and pharmaceutical research after graduating before going to medical school.

What did you do?

Under the guidance of Dr. Sung, I participated in research of Alzheimer’s disease from a physiological standpoint before continuing on to biochemical experiments. In our experiments, we collected data based on C. elegans worm behavior and its attraction to chemoattractants that replicated the smell of food. I was responsible for making more batches of E. coli food for the worms, incubating new batches of worms, and carrying out new behavioral tests based on the diet and age of worms.

When and where did you do this work?

I was able to work with Dr. Sung in Alzheimer research here at PUC in the research labs of Clark Hall during my freshman year.

What did you learn?

In my research experience, I learned to cement process and create consistent procedures to limit the amount of error in data results. I feel as though my experience in my research with Dr. Sung has been foundational to any future opportunities in research or in my practice in medicine later in life. By experiencing research and the process of exploring what causes biological mechanisms I learned to think abstractly and use information I was learning in my chemistry and biology classes to apply in our experiments. Additionally, I learned by reading the articles of others’ work I was able to see how useful it is to use the research of other’s to the furthering the understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s by working as a community.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

Previously I curated a love for lab research in high school when I took survey chemistry classes. I have also gotten the opportunity to intern at a clinic in Houston and interact with individuals who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. In having experience and a background in chemistry, however introductory, lead to my ability to look at biological research on a fundamental and chemical level as well as have skills to understand laboratory procedure and tools.

Student Research Profile: Tom Borecky

PUC students Tom Borecky, Lauren Chang, and Mick Borecky presented their research project as a poster presentation at the American College of Gastroenterology national convention in Philadelphia, Oct 7, 2018.

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

My name is Tom Borecky, and I am a senior biology major. I will be attending medical school in the fall and hope to get a master’s degree in public health as well.

What did you do?

I had the privilege of participating in a research project examining the impact of the Affordable Care Act on colonoscopy cancellation rates. I was responsible for organizing and collecting data from over 400 cases to analyze the specifics of the reasons for cancellations, such as demographic information and insurance type.

When and where did you do this work?

I did this work when I returned home from my gap year as a student missionary in Uganda in March 2018. This research was done at the Sierra Nevada Gastroenterology practice in Grass Valley, California. We spent a few weeks collecting and organizing all the data, and had the opportunity to present a poster of the findings at the American College of Gastroenterology annual conference in Philadelphia the following October.

What did you learn?

Throughout my experience, I learned the intricate process of research, which can be extremely detail-oriented and tedious, is essential to produce accurate information that will guide and help people. Also, the skill of learning how to work with others as a team to accomplish a goal was a major achievement from my research experience. These skills have impacted my life beyond the research in tremendous ways.

How did your experience at PUC help you prepare for this experience?

Throughout my time at PUC in the department of biology, the basic skills I have developed through lab such as organizing and processing data in Excel was extremely useful in aiding me in the research process. Also, classes such as Systems Physiology and BIOL 113 allowed me to have a sufficient understanding of the digestive system, which helped guide the conceptual understanding of “why” this research was meaningful.

Student Research Profile: Emily Castellanos

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Emily Castellanos, and I am a senior biology, pre-vet major. I plan to go to graduate school for a masters in biomedical sciences: animal anatomy and physiology, then go to professional school to become a veterinarian.

What did you do?

I interned this summer as a veterinarian assistant at an animal hospital. I performed simple tasks such as cleaning cages, taking dogs out for short walks, and administering vaccines to cats and dogs to more complicated tasks such as monitoring anesthesia, performing blood draws, taking notes for the doctors, and interacting with as well as explaining treatment plans to clients.

When and where did you do this work?

My initial internship was for two and a half months (summer 2018), but now has been extended to a part-time job until I graduate in 2019. The animal hospital is the California Pet Hospital in Napa.

What did you learn?

I’ve learned so many things during my time at Cal Pet. I’ve learned about the basic anatomy of cats and dogs, the physiology of and calculations for the dosing of medications. I have had the amazing opportunity to learn how to interact with clients, basic animal behavior cues, surgery equipment identification, how to make estimates for treatments, basic radiography, cytology, and many other valuable skills.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

There are several classes PUC offers which have helped prepare me for this experience. While many of the classes related to medicine are focused on human anatomy and physiology, there are countless comparative similarities between animals and humans. Thus, Human Anatomy, Developmental Biology, and Systems Physiology have been the most helpful in giving me background knowledge for treatments as well as allowing me to be more useful to the veterinarians because I have knowledge on what they talk about. But even the foundational sequences in biology and chemistry have also proven to be very helpful as well.

Student Research Profile: Sean Richards

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Sean Richards, and I am a senior biology major. I plan to go on to graduate school in marine biology to specialize in invertebrate conservation.

What did you do?

I participated in a research trip with Dr. Hayes to study the commensal associations between different species of urchins, invertebrates, and fish. During this time, I was responsible for taking photos as well as counting urchin individuals, with and without associating organisms.

When and where did you do this work?

This research opportunity took place in January 2019 off the coasts of Cabo San Lucas, in the Gulf of California.

What did you learn?

I learned an immense amount on this trip. Though swimming in a wetsuit for multiple hours in a day can be tiring, it is well worth the effort. I saw several species of pufferfish, pipefish, and eels I had only read about or seen in captivity up until that point. It was also interesting to peek into each crevice to find different species hiding within the urchin’s spines for protection. From this, I learned much about underwater photography, the collection of density measurements, as well as the resources available for fish/invertebrate identification.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

The classes immediately come to mind for me are those of General Biology, Ecology, and Marine Biology. From these classes, I learned an enormous amount about the writing of scientific papers, animal anatomy, as well as the mindset goes into doing this kind of research. Also, students at PUC are lucky enough to have a department that routinely offers research opportunities in a variety of areas.

Student Research Profile: Caroline Hogan

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Caroline Hogan, and I am a junior environmental studies major. I plan to go into the Navy or to get my master’s degree in forestry and ecology.

What did you do?

I did an internship involving the study on the impact the October 2017 fires had on the plant and tree growth on my burned property. The mission was to count and record the impact the Nuns Fire had on the property and to see if any of the trees like oak and Douglas-fir were able to recover from being burned as well as the degree of life that the survivors had.

When and where did you do this work?

My research internship was for eight months on my property in Sonoma Valley in Sonoma County.

What did you learn?

There were so many things I learned when doing this research project I never knew were not in the norm for an internship. Much of the work was in the field and involved a lot of hiking and charting down every single individual tree and shrub inhabited the heavily wooded five-acre property. I learned how to chart and map the trees and plants properly, how to identify them in their burnt state. I also learned how to write up a report on the trees for the insurance company and client. As well as how to deal with a client professionally and how to work with multiple different people, agencies, insurance agents, and lawyers.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

I am an environmental studies major, so the class Natural History of California helped prepare me to identify the plants and trees that were difficult to identify due to their burnt state. Intro to GIS as well helped me immensely because I learned how to properly use a GPS to map out the entire property and every individual tree. Professor Wyrick also helped me with her knowledge of the native plants of California and how to identify them and gave me tips on how to determine what they were when they were unrecognizable.

Student Research Profile: Antonio Robles

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Antonio Robles, and I am a junior biology major. I am currently a pre-medicine student looking at research opportunities in the medical field or in marine biology.

What did you do?

I participated in research with Dr. Hayes by studying the symbiotic associations of urchins in the Sea of Cortez. Most were done by natural observations by counting holes with the urchins and writing down every species seen in the hole. In the summer, I also participated in neuroscience research with Dr. Sung. I was in charge of finding a way to stain the C. elegans tissue to link possible neurological damage due to overconsumption of food to dementia.

When and where did you do this work?

In the summer of 2018, I spent 11 weeks working with the C. elegans alongside Dr. Sung. This was all spent in the microbiology lab at PUC. In the first week of January 2019, I spent working with Dr. Hayes gather data for the associations with urchins in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

What did you learn?

From both experiences, I learned about the helpful scientific community and how to use certain equipment. Specifically, with Dr. Sung, I was able to communicate with successful research scientists in Switzerland through the internet to come up with an apparatus that would allow the staining and slicing of C. elegans. This cooperation was a highlight as it allowed me to move forward in my research while seeing how there is always collaboration in science. In addition, I learned how to use cryostats, different types of microscopes, micropipettes, and other tools. With Dr. Hayes, I learned the hard work it takes to do fieldwork and how to record data in computers. Each night Dr. Hayes would spend hours adding all the observations in Excel and being able to observe was a great experience.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

Taking the Biological Foundations sequence helped me be familiar with lab tools such as the microscope and micropipette. In addition, it gave me the ground foundations for knowing about the brain and the importance of C. elegans for science. Intro to Research Methods II was very helpful in the way we approach research. This allowed me to know how to contact different researchers around the world to collaborate and it also gave me the opportunity to receive a grant for the research in Mexico on urchins. Past experiences with Dr. Hayes doing research in Clear Lake and Roatán, Honduras, also allowed me to be ready.