HRP SU23-43: Research Opportunity with Dr. Zhao-Wen Wang

Project Mentor

Dr. Zhao-Wen Wang
Department of Neuroscience

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Description

Project Description We recently discovered that melatonin promotes sleep in the nematode C. elegans by activating the SLO-1 potassium channel through a specific melatonin receptor, PCDR-1 (Niu et al., PNAS 117: 25128-25137, 2020). This project is to identify the neurons where PCDR-1 and SLO-1 act to regulate sleep by analyzing activities of neurons in the C. elegans sleep neural circuit using a genetically encoded calcium indicator, and by correlating neuronal activities with worm sleep behavior.
Project Direction C. elegans is often used as a model to interrogate the neural circuit bases of behavior because it can perform diverse behaviors with a nervous system of only 302 neurons. Our recent discovery that melatonin plays a sleep-promoting role in worms makes it possible to determine where and how melatonin function in the C. elegans nervous system to regulate sleep. The resulting knowledge may help us understand how melatonin promotes sleep in mammals.
Mentorship and Supervision The student will be assigned reading materials related to the summer project. The lab PI and senior lab members will guide and train the student to learn necessary experimental techniques, such as imaging calcium signals of single neurons in live worms, analyzing the calcium signals to correlate them with worm sleep behavior, and constructing plasmids for transgenic injections. The student will attend our weekly group meetings, and present at least one published paper at the meeting. Progress will be monitored and feedback will be provided through direct interactions.
Student Qualifications
• Strong interest in pursuing a biomedical career.
• Excellent GPA.
• Willingness to work with C. elegans, which is a tiny and harmless worm (~1 mm long).
Summer Schedule Options Research Dates: May 22 to July 28, 2023
Schedule: Guidance and supervision are available Monday-Friday 9am through 6pm during the summer internship.
Project Continuation Fall 2023, Spring 2024
Academic Year Time Commitment 6 hours/week
Possible Thesis Project No


Submit an online application for this research opportunity at The application deadline is Monday, January 30, 2023.

This application requires a cover letter, a resume or CV, an unofficial transcript, GPA, science GPA, a brief statement of research interests, and a brief statement of career interests. References should be available upon request.