Reyna Parker’20

When I started Bowdoin college I joined a pre-orientation group called the Bowdoin Science Experience (BSE). This program focused on providing underrepresented students with the connections and mentorship needed to pursue a career in STEM. I initially applied to Bowdoin thinking that I would become an economics and biology, double major. However, through BSE I was introduced to the neuroscience major and decided that I wanted to pursue that path instead. I came to appreciate the combination of both the psychological and biological fields of science more than economics. Thanks to BSE I was able to start my first semester with a research job in an ecology lab with Professor Vladimir Douhovnikoff. In his lab, I was traversing the ecological side of biology. I gathered and read papers relevant to the research that will be conducted in that lab. I also made data tables and conducted plant extractions. This was one of my first experiences in an actual lab.

During the summer of my first year, I examined mutations of the eyes absent gene within Drosophila with Professor Jack Bateman. The eyes absent (eya) gene plays a major in eye development within Drosophila. A lack of this gene leads to a phenotype of Drosophila without an eye. Similarly to other genes, eyes absent has two first exons. These two transcription start sites and are named exon B1 and exon A1. The role of these two exons has not yet been confirmed. However, previous research using CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) found that removing exon B1 caused a phenotype in which the Drosophila axons do not develop properly. (Bateman, Unpublished) My research tested whether or not these mutant axons enter the brain. I dissected and preformed an antibody staining on the eye discs, axons, and brains of third instar larva. I compared the phenotype of the mutated exon B1 of the eyes absent gene with the wild type.

I would love to work in the UCSF dermatology department for many reasons. I intended to pursue a dermatology career path and I believe that it would be very helpful if I gain some research experience from one of the world’s best research facilities in that field. I have personal connections to UCSF that I have carried with me since a very young age. UCSF is not only near where I grew up but it is the place that saved both my grandmother and my mother.

I believe that my experience allows me to understand the genetic aspects of this study. Most of my research consists of examining the phenotypes of different mutations. This involved understanding rudimentary eye development within Drosophila which included aspects of cell differentiation and cell death. I compared how axons developed in wild type and mutant flies. I hope that I can use my skills to analyze dermatitis on a phenotypic level.