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Undergraduate Research Program

Dane Kawano

Kawano, DaneMajor: Biochemistry; Biology          Minor: Marine Biology
Mentor: Merrill Hille, Biology

Contact: kawano13@uw.edu

Current research project: p120-Catenin’s Role in Mediating Cell Adhesion and Motility in Developing Zebrafish Embryos

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
During embryo development, the migration of cells drives the organization of the different tissue layers. p120-catenin has been identified as a protein that plays a fundamental role in this migration and cell motility in general. However, p120-catenin also functions with cadherin proteins to form adhesion junctions between cells. Essentially, the function of p120-catenin is antagonistic, either causing cells to stick together or move away. This dual functionality is determined by the phosphorylation state of p120-catenin at different amino acid residues. I’m interested in identifying which residues of p120-catenin, when phosphorylated or desphosphorlated, promote cell motility.

What is the most challenging and/or sometimes frustrating aspect of your undergraduate research experience? What did you learn from it?
The most challenging aspect of research is having to make it secondary to my school work. When an experiment doesn’t work as expected, all I want to do is be in lab to figure out how to fix it so I can get better results. However, school work has to come first, which means having to put an experiment on hold if, for example, I have a test coming up. What I’ve learned from this is how to best manage my time between research and school to not fall behind in either.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
For anyone wanting to get involved in undergraduate research, my biggest advice is to find a project that excites you. You want to be excited to go to lab every day, rather than going to lab because you need to.