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Zero to One

Being able to participate in the Build program, has shaped me into the person I am today. Prior to joining the Domingo lab, I was still a naive junior trying to piece out life together. Through the Build program, I was able to participate and work in Dr. Domingo lab. The first couple of months of being in the lab setting was overwhelming. Honestly, I didn’t know I was capable of handling the material that was sinking into my brain. Several months of dedication and guidance from the lab. I learned how to design my own experiments and about the importance of controls in experiments. I also learned many lab techniques such as gel electrophoresis to separate DNA and proteins, microinjection of RNAs and Morpholinos, as well as immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy.

The Domingo lab focuses on understanding how muscle form during early vertebrate embryogenesis, which is very relevant to humans. I was able to work on my individual project after several months of training. My project involves understanding the cell behaviors underlying muscle formation in a relatively new model species, Xenopus tropicalis. Our lab primarily uses Xenopus laevis, but since it is polyploidy, it has some limitations. In contrast X. tropicalis is diploid and is a good system for understanding molecular pathways. However, very little is known about its embryological processes.

Throughout the project, I have faced a few challenges in understanding the mechanism of how Xenopus tropicalis muscles form using immunohistochemistry technique. I struggled to pick up the signal of my antibody staining using confocal microscopy. At the end of the day, I immediately sought help from our lab manager Julio who helped me troubleshoot my experiments. Through this process, I learned the importance of working as a team, and the importance of patience and persistence. This was a very positive experience which enables me to connect and share my finding with my peers along with other researchers around the globe. This experience has encouraged me to continue with my training in research. Currently, we are in the process of writing a paper on the experiment that I have contributed to the lab.

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