HRP SU17-12: Research Opportunity with Dr. David Martinelli

Project Mentor

Dr. David Martinelli

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Description

Project Description The undergraduate research project will involve the study of the C1q-like family of proteins, which are secreted from neurons of the brain and contribute to the formation and maintenance of synapses. A variety of techniques will be taught, ranging from biochemistry to in vitro cell culture to rodent behavior assays. There are multiple possibilities for which neuronal circuit to focus on, including the auditory system with disease relevance for sound-induced hearing loss, and prefrontal cortex circuitry, with disease relevance for addiction and ADHD. In addition to gaining experience in laboratory techniques, the student will learn the critical thinking skills required of a modern laboratory scientist.
Project Direction The laboratory studies synaptic adhesion proteins expressed by neurons, which bind across the synaptic cleft to form a molecular interface between pre- and post-synaptic membranes and also initiate inter-cellular trans-synaptic signaling. These proteins are at the junction of our genes and experiences and are critical for initiating and stabilizing synaptic changes in a multitude of ways. Our research goal is to understand the molecular logic of how synaptic adhesion proteins orchestrate synaptic formation, modification, and function, and to ultimately provide an explanation for how these events influence behaviors, in particular the aberrant behaviors associated with neuropsychiatric diseases.
Mentorship and Supervision The student will receive hands on training directly from the professor, on both laboratory techniques and the intellectual aspects of being a scientist, including designing controlled experiments and interpretation of results. The professor will meet with the student as often as needed, which initially will likely be every day. Progress will be monitored by the student’s ability to transition into performing research techniques independently, after receiving the required technical training. The goal for the student is to acquire an ‘independent research’ experience, where the role of the professor is to assist in experimental design and data interpretation. Feedback will be provided frequently; every day if needed.
Student Qualifications The student should be majoring in a biological science. The student should have had laboratory courses that teach fundamental laboratory techniques, such as basic microscope use and pipetting. Completion of courses in biochemistry, molecular biology, and neuroscience are preferred, but not required. The student must be willing to perform research experiments on mice. Most important of all, the student should have a passion for scientific discovery!
Summer Schedule Options Research Dates: 9-10 full-time weeks to be scheduled between May 15 and August 25, 2017
Schedule: To be determined in consultation with the selected student
Project Continuation Fall 2017, Spring 2018
Academic Year Time Commitment 9 hours/week
Possible Thesis Project Yes


Submit an online application for this research opportunity using the form below. The application deadline is Friday, February 24, 2017.

This application requires a cover letter, a resume or CV, an unofficial transcript, a brief statement of research interests, a brief statement of career interests, and contact information for two references.