What degree are you pursuing?
I am pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, specializing in metallo-biochemistry
Who is (are) your advisors?
What is the focus of your research?
My research focuses on the role of metals in biology, specifically copper. Copper is an essential metal ion used in various enzymatic processes, like converting dopamine into norepinephrine, and controlling the production of melanin and other peptide hormones in humans, among others. Without proper regulation, copper can have extremely toxic effects leading to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Menke’s and Wilson’s. I use a range of spectroscopic and biochemical techniques in order to study the structure-function relationship of individual copper proteins and how the metal is transported in the cell under various physiological conditions.
How will your research benefit society?
Metal regulation is an important cellular process that is not well understood. My research will provide a better understanding of how copper proteins respond to various physiological processes. This will help us understand the basic biochemical properties of some of these copper related diseases like that of Menke’s and Wilson’s disease, and possibly give us some insight on how copper affects other cellular processes yet to be explored.
How have you taken advantage of professional development opportunities through OHSU and the Institute of Environmental Health?
I have attended and presented at conferences on campus and elsewhere throughout my graduate career. I have also been an invited speaker at Research in Progress Seminar Series (RiPPS) and the OHSU Multicultural Health, Science and Engineering Career Conference. In addition, I have mentored an undergraduate student two consecutive summers, and have tutored high school students in advanced chemistry.
What do you plan to do with your degree?
I would like to stay on the west coast and continue doing research in either industry or an academic research setting that allows me to use my skills and expertise in a way that can be more directly applied to a bigger picture.