With the help of a Summer Experience Grant from the College of Arts & Sciences, Rachel Diao ‘19 will be able to take advantage of a research opportunity in Cologne, Germany this summer. Diao, a biological sciences major, is working with Dr. Adam Antebi, managing director of a lab at the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing.
“I originally found this internship last year and worked with the Graef lab at the Max Planck Institute to study autophagy in S. cerevisiae (budding yeast), and I loved the experience so much that I chose to come back but work with a different lab to diversify my research experience,” Diao said. “I'm looking forward to working with brilliant scientists from all over the world this summer and studying a completely different field of aging biology.”
Diao will be studying the relationship between endoplasmic reticulum stress on mitochondrial function in an organism to uncover what role this relationship plays in cellular longevity. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the cellular organelle that directs the folding, processing and trafficking of membrane-bound and secreted proteins, including many crucial components of the immune response, making the ER important for cell function and survival.
“I've been interested in studying aging biology since learning briefly about it in high school,” Diao said. “I joined the Libert Lab at Cornell my freshman year so I could learn more about the cutting edge research in aging-related diseases and cellular rejuvenation.” Sergiy Libert is an assistant professor of biomedical sciences in Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Diao intends on pursuing a PhD in molecular biology after graduating.
“I want to continue to do research in the field of aging,” Diao said. “There are molecular ‘hallmarks of aging’ that lead to just about all the aging-related diseases (cancers, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc) and combating these could potentially extend the time during which humans can remain healthy.”
Funding for Summer Experience Grants in the college comes from a variety of sources, including alumni gifts and the Student Assembly. The funds help students to complete summer unpaid or minimally paid career-related experiences.
Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.