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Gautam Kanakamedala ‘17

“Intergenic Effects of Bang-sensitive Mutations in Drosophila melanogaster”

Major/Minor: Biochemistry
Hometown: Bethlehem
Project Advisor(s): Dr. Christopher Jones

Briefly describe your project.

Drosophila melanogaster are a number of mutated genes induce seizures. These genes are known as bang-sensitive genes. The functions of the gene products have been determined. However, it is unclear how they interact with each other. This research is focused on the creation of double bang-sensitive mutants using traditional genetic techniques. After combining existing mutations, the intergenic effects of carrying multiple bang-sensitive genes was studied.

Why did you decide to turn your idea into a SOAR project?

Dr. Jones had a student study the intergenic effects of these mutations several years ago. With the discovery of additional bang-sensitive genes, he wanted me to expand upon the previous research.

How did your faculty advisor guide you through your research?

The best part about working with Dr. Jones is his ability to encourage me in the face of obstacles and his devotion to improving upon my research skills. He has taught me to be proactive and observant in all that I do. 

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

The biggest obstacle was developing a plan of action. With no past research experience, it was difficult for me to jump into a project which I would be responsible for.  However, with the guidance from Dr. Jones, I was able to develop research skills that helped me along the way.  Research went from being a daunting task to an enjoyable one.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

This research experience has given me the confidence to take on an Honors Project and continue my passion for research.

What was the result of your project? 

I was able to create double bang-sensitive mutants, but unfortunately, due to the time restraint I was unable to look closely at the effects of have two bang-sensitive mutations.

Will you expand on your research after this summer is over? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I do not plan on expanding my research since I will be taking on an Honors Project that focuses on a different aspect of bang-sensitive mutations.

In your own words, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? 

I am very grateful for this opportunity! It not only introduced me to research, but it gave me the chance to share my findings with a community of researchers from many fields. I also am thankful for the SOAR program because it has given me the skills necessary to succeed in my Honors Project. Students should partake in this program because it introduces you to the world of research and gives you the skills necessary to succeed in future research, not only in the sciences but in many other fields as well.