Major: MCD Biology, Microbiology
Mentor: David Baker (Biochemistry), Jason Zhang (Biochemistry)
Current research project: Designing and Testing Binders for Chaperones (Hsp70) and Signaling Proteins (Ras)
Nathan Greenwood is a third-year student studying MCD Biology and Microbiology. He is currently working in the Baker lab testing previously designed chaperone binders and designing binders to a signaling protein. In the future, Nathan is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in biology or related fields. Aside from academics, he enjoys reading, running, going outdoors, and learning new things!
Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Chaperones are ubiquitous proteins that play vital roles in correctly folding misfolded proteins. A binder to chaperones could increase their activity allowing them to refold more misfolded proteins. This is important because misfolded proteins can form aggregates and may play a role in neurodegenerative diseases, thus a binder to increase chaperone activity may act as a therapeutic to these diseases. Ras is a signaling protein that is mutated in 30% of cancers and leads to cell growth and proliferation, however a binder to the mutant form of Ras is not naturally present. Developing a binder specific to the mutant form would lead to better understanding of how this protein influences cancer.
When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I first got involved with research in winter quarter of my freshman year by taking a research class advertised by a professor. By emailing professors and graduate students I began researching in a lab the summer after my freshman year. I wanted to get involved in research because peers and professors I spoke to placed value in the research experience. After participating in it myself I realized that they were not only right, but they didn’t mention how fun it is!
What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
If you’re considering it you should go for it! I would suggest being open to any experience that sounds interesting to you and know that you don’t have to stay at the same lab for the rest of your undergraduate career. Research is a great way to explore fields that you didn’t even know existed and learn where your interests and passions are. Try to connect with your professors and TAs or others that are involved in research that interests you! Ask them questions and learn what their research is about to get to know them more and then you can see if they are taking on undergraduates or know of a PI that is.