Undergraduate Research Program

Rachel Boccamazzo

Boccamazzo, Rachel 150x200
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Emily Carrington, Biology

Contact: raegun@uw.edu

Current research project: Mussel Attachment in a High CO2 World: An Integrated Ecomaterials Approach

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
We are looking into post-translational modification of mussel attachment proteins under stressors related to ocean acidification (increased pH, temperature, dissolved CO2). Mussel attachment is essential for their success as intertidal species and their success is important for a variety of connected species in that diverse marine zone. Shellfish are often susceptible to small changes in pH in the ocean as they depend on calcification to make their shells. Mussels are unique in that they also attach to substrate using protein threads called “byssus” which are incredibly strong. We want to know if ocean acidification is impacting the structural integrity of these threads during their manufacture and afterwards.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I decided before I even began my academic career that I wanted to be a research scientist and all of my choices have been moving toward that goal. I wanted to change the world through discovery. My first lab position came when I transferred to the UW from community college as a junior. I participated in the Washington NASA Summer Research Program and worked with a synthetic biology lab in the Molecular Science and Engineering Department. A whole summer doing research was a dream come true.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t focus too much on what exact kind of research you want to do. There are so many options that you can easily get overwhelmed. Just try something out as soon as you can and you will learn what type of research really excites you. And have fun!