When Noah Strickland, Hannah Kitko, and Lana Maniakhina first dove into an independent research project with Dr. Crystal Goldyn, assoc. professor of science at MAC, they didn’t know what to expect.

“I was very nervous and thought, ‘How are we ever going to get conclusive results for something like this?’” said Maniakhina, originally from Sevastopol, Russia. “Dr. Goldyn made it personal and her experience really guided us.”

The project involved altering the DNA in yeast and then testing the yeast’s ability to respond in various environments.

Kitko explained the questions asked along the way.

“If we knock out a gene in Saccharomyces’ genome, how would Saccharomyces respond? What environment would inhibit the growth of Saccharomyces? Was there a morphological change? Will the yeast still be able to reproduce, and if it doesn’t, why?”

The student lead research has been going on for the past several years under Dr. Goldyn’s supervision.

“This has been an ongoing project and multiple groups of students have been conducting research to help determine the function of UBP11,” stated Dr. Goldyn. “Our end goal is to gather enough conclusive data to solidify our understanding of UBP11 function.”

Strickland remarked on how this study has boosted his college experience.

“Small groups, newly founded friendships, shared learning opportunities, one-on-one learning with professors and the ability to learn real-world lab techniques have given me an opportunity to experience true research. It will be a true advantage over others studying in this field.”

Strickland continued to say that he hasn’t always been a biology major, but now that he has switched to biology he could never dream of doing anything else. “The classes and labs are truly engaging and fun to be in, and I’m confident that I am prepared for my future endeavors.”

“Research experience is a large part of a lot of job postings,” said Maniakhina. “This opportunity is preparing us for our careers. It’s also allowed us to travel and participate in some awesome conferences.”

Dr. Goldyn would like to encourage more students to participate in independent research.

“This type of project is not only for the biology majors on campus, rather all students at Mount Aloysius who would like to endure a scholarly challenge,” she said. “If you are a person who enjoys a challenge and solving problems until a solution is found, then performing primary research would be a great experience to add to your college journey.”