This summer, I had an amazing opportunity to be part of the AMGEN scholars program at the University of California, Berkeley. I worked full time in the lab of Dr. Matthew Welch, which studies host-pathogen interaction. With the help of Patrik Engström, a postdoc in Dr. Welch’s lab, I conducted a 10-week project that entailed understanding how a bacterial pathogen Rickettsia avoids host cell recognition. Basically, the innate immune system has a well-established mechanism to recognize intracellular pathogens by labeling them with a protein ubiquitin for degradation, but interestingly Rickettsia has evolved mechanisms to evade host cell recognition. Recent work in the lab has suggested that outer membrane protein B (OmpB) acts on the bacterial surface to block polyubiquitylation of multiple surface proteins including OmpA. To gain insights into the mechanisms of polyubiquitylation of the ompB mutant, I assessed what types of ubiquitin chains formed globally on the whole bacteria, and specifically on OmpA using western blotting and immunofluorescence techniques.
During my time at Berkeley, I had an incredible research experience, with support and mentorship. I also had a fantastic experience outside the lab. During the first few weekends, we explored San Francisco (Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Wood, etc), Monterey Aquarium and Santa Cruz Beach. The program also offered a variety of resources including GRE prep courses, graduate students who were very helpful in providing direct peer mentorship, and various opportunities to network with other faculty members, industry scientists, and other AMGEN scholars across the nation. Overall, I had a good time at Berkeley and built solid friendships with my fellow scholars. I thank the MARC program and AMGEN scholars program for their support, funding, and making this happen.