Summer Community of Scholars

Who's improving human health?

Di Deng

DI DENG

It is never easy to find the very special thing that lights up all your passion. I can still remember during orientation, it didn’t take me long to fill up the course registration form with almost all science classes. I was lucky; even then, I knew that science is that "very special" thing for me. However, it did take me a long time to discover what, in science, interests me the most. There’s no easy way out for this, but to keep experiencing.

Coming to Clark with a general interest in biology, I started my "discovering experience" by volunteering in different labs in the biology/chemistry department. In Foster/Baker laboratory, I did some studies on the three-spine stickleback fish which is the perfect model system for studying on ecology and animal behavior. I also did some field work on mosquitoes with Dr. Livdahl in the summer of 2007.

When I found myself being attracted to the medical field, I joined Dr. Lazo’s lab. His focus is on the biophysics of folding and aggregation of proteins as well as their effect in causing Type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. In the summer of 2008, with the support of the Beavers Award, I worked in Dr. Noel Lazo’s lab for ten weeks. My proposed project focused on determination of the structure of protofibrils formed by AB42. In particular, the hypothesis that the protofibrils contain a B-helix structure was tested. Protofibrils are transient structures observed during in vitro formation of mature amyloid fibrils and have been implicated as the toxic species responsible for cell dysfunction and neuronal loss in Alzheimer’s Disease as well as other protein aggregation diseases. Throughout the ten-week research experience, I worked with graduate students and was trained to use most of the equipment in the lab. With the guidance of Dr. Lazo, I had a productive summer and my work was presented during Fall Fest 2008.

I am currently involved in Dr. Anthony Carruthers’ lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Research in Dr. Carruthers’ laboratory is aimed at understanding protein-mediated transport of nutrients and other small molecules across cell membranes. I work primarily with a PhD student in the lab focusing on study of several mutants of GLUT1. Cell biology, and studies at a molecular level, is a brand new area for me. Eager to learn more, I will be carrying on this internship this summer.

All this laboratory experience enriched my understanding of various fields in biology. As always, I am still looking forward to experiencing and exploring research in different areas of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Personal Interests

Sports (badminton, basketball, etc), drawing, traveling

Awards

Global Scholars Scholarship, 2006-2010