Michael S. Chang, 2016, Molecular Biology

The molecular biology lab team with which I interned this summer focused on using sea urchins as a model for anti-aging and cancer research. Sea urchins have an incredible range of natural life spans (including extreme longevity and negligible senescence) and have shown very few instances of cancer in comparison to other marine organisms. My independent work investigated the DNA integrity of sea urchin larvae and their capacity to repair DNA damage after exposure to two commonly used genotoxicants, UV-C radiation and hydrogen peroxide. My project fit within a larger effort to measure the extent to which different types of sea urchin cells and tissues could reduce DNA damage—and to isolate the genes responsible for this repair. Ultimately, this information will increase our understanding of genetic repair pathways, which is important in the field of cancer research. Through this experience, I learned how to use quantitative assays, microplate readers, qPCR, epifluorescent microscopy, and fluorescence in-situ hybridization. I loved researching and working with full-time scientists in the lab this summer, and I cannot wait to explore more research opportunities later at Princeton.