Undergraduate Research Program

Micaela Ruiz

Mickey Smiling in front of lakeMajor: Intended Physiology/ Psychology
Mentor: Kendan Jones-Isaac , Department of Pharmaceutics

Contact: mvr25@uw.edu

Current research project: Development of a Urinary Biomarker Assay for Measuring Acute Oxidative Stress

Micaela is a first generation student. She is a Junior intended to double major in Physiology and Psychology at the University of Washington. She was raised in Eastern Washington in the city of Yakima. Currently she has been conducting research in the Ed Kelly Lab in the Department of Pharmaceutics for the past 2.5 years. She has examined Polymyxin antibiotic toxicity towards kidney cells and is currently examining a biomarker for oxidative stress. She hopes that her next project will be examining pesticide exposure and toxicity, including neurotoxins that may induce Alzheimer’s in immigrant farm workers.

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Aging related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and hypertension amongst others continue to impact the aging population. Oxidative stress and reactive oxygen species disrupt the basic building blocks of biology. They are natural byproducts of cell function and are increased from smoking, diet, alcohol, or exposure to pollution, chemicals, radiation, even sunlight. In our lab we focus on studying kidney physiology by using microphysiological devices, which we call chips. The benefit of these chips is that they allow us to better replicate the physiologic condition of a cell’s native environment. This allows us to study disease states, drug response, and replicate environmental toxins. Recently I have participated in the project to use these chips to evaluate 8-oxo-gsn as a biomarker of acute oxidative stress and disease. Finding these biomarkers for oxidative stress can help with indicating age associated diseases early on and help with early intervention treatments.

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I got involved in research the summer of 2018 going into my freshman year. I was granted the opportunity through the UW ALVA GenOM project which is a program that targets underrepresented students which allows us to receive valuable research experience in an academic setting, and learn about the impact of genomic studies in the field of science and society.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Do not overwork yourself, mentors and PI’s were once students too and know that your school work and mental health are more of a priority compared to research.