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Suzette is studying mutations and how they impact the development of certain organisms as a part of the McNair Scholars Program.


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Suzette Vargas '19

McNair Scholar

Majors in Biology and Spanish

Suzette is studying the development of mutations in frogs and cells as a McNair Scholar.

Suzette is studying mutations and how they impact the development of certain organisms as a part of the McNair Scholars Program.

Describe your research. What inspired you to pursue this project?

Professor of Biology Chair of the Neuroscience program Judy Thorn suggested the idea on doing research on Xenopus laevis (frogs) and oocytes. Xenopus laevis is a great organism to work with due to its similarity to a human organism. Therefore, many have used frogs to research human diseases. Similarly, I will be doing research on mutations in Xenopus laevis. I studied the Xenopus laevis genome, more specifically it's its n1 gene. In this gene, I used a genome program CHOPCHOP to find possible Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) that will give us a mutation on the itsn1 gene. After that, I will observe the oocytes and how they develop. I wanted to pursue this project because I was interested in observing and studying mutations in these organisms and how severely they can impact their development.

How has the McNair program helped you?

The McNair program helped me get out of my comfort zone and explore things that I can not only research, but that I can achieve. All of the McNair staff gave me the confidence and support I needed to pursue this research opportunity. All the seminars we had throughout the year with McNair helped me realize many things, not only about research, but about the real world. Also, a large part of my research is thanks to my professor, advisor, and research mentor, Judy Thorn. Judy has helped me gain many research skills, from analyzing a hard scientific paper to learning different techniques in the lab. I wouldn't have been able to go through with this research without her time and dedication.

What are your future plans?

Before applying to the program, I was unsure of what it was that I wanted to pursue with a biology degree. I have enjoyed doing research and it interests me, but I decided that I want to be a specialized nurse. My project taught me a lot that I'll need to know as a nurse, and has helped me learn many important things about the laboratory setting.

Suzette Vargas '19 is one of 10 students accepted into the McNair Scholars Program. She is on the Prairie Fire softball team. Vargas is also a Teacher's Assistant for a biology class, taught in Knox's summer enrichment program College for Kids, and is a COAST scholar. In the past she's worked as a football manager and volunteers for Blessings in a Backpack.

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Printed on Friday, November 15, 2019