Research at Hendrix

Kelly Limoncelli '10

Philosophy and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology double major

Graduate student in the Melissa Moore Lab, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Graduate School of Biomedical Science

Research focus: Understanding RNA processing events and how errors in those events lead to certain motor neuron diseases

Highlight quote

"My liberal arts education fine-tuned my critical thinking skills and exposed me to different modes of thought."

Undergraduate Research

I did three major research projects in two different faculty members' labs.

In Dr. Jennifer L. Dearolf's Lab

Title: Understanding the effects of betamethasone on the extensor digitorum longus in fetal guinea pigs

Description: Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that trigger cellular differentiation during animal development. Pregnant women at risk for preterm births are commonly administered synthetic glucocorticoids, such as betamethasone, in order to accelerate tissue maturation, and consequently increase the survival rate of premature newborns. A great deal of research shows the effects of prenatal steroids on lung tissue; however, the effects on breathing muscles remain unexplored. My research focused on studying the extensor digitorum longus muscle of fetal guinea pigs when exposed to betamethasone. In particular, I examined changes in protein expression of different myosin heavy chain isoforms by running SDS polyacrylamide gels.

In Advanced Genetics with Dr. Andrea Duina

Title: Genome wide analysis of the gene deletion encoding the yRsc1 protein

Description: The RSC complex functions in remodeling chromatin and is necessary for mitotic growth. For this project, I worked with yeast and examined genome-wide consequences after deleting the gene encoding Rsc1, a subunit of the RSC complex.

In Advanced Cell Biology with Dr. Duina

Title: Determination of the N-terminal nuclear localization sequence for the ySpt16 protein

Description: The FACT complex is necessary for transcription elongation; it functions to clear the transcriptional machinery's pathway by remodeling nucleosomes. In order for the complex to function, other proteins must transport the FACT complex's subunits from the cytosol to the nucleus. These subunits contain a special peptide sequence recognized by the transporting proteins. For this project, I studied the Spt16 subunit and narrowed down the region containing the peptide sequence.

How Hendrix prepared me for success

Undoubtedly, my undergraduate research experience prepared me for my current graduate studies. However, my overall Hendrix experience had a greater impact on how I perform as a scientist today. My liberal arts education fine-tuned my critical thinking skills and exposed me to different modes of thought. My philosophy education influences how I look at biological problems; my music and mathematics education influences how I recognize patterns. Hendrix's small size fostered an environment that encouraged me to be honest and responsible about my work, my studies, and my relationships.