- Elise Gamino – My name is Elise Gamino and I am a rising sophomore majoring in biology. I am also a softball player here at Dominican. I have been playing since I was 10 years old. This is my first summer in the slug lab and I have really enjoyed working here. I have learned so much and have also found a love for neuroscience. I am really excited to learn new things, especially learning about molecular biology and running through new protocols.
- Bryan Gonzalez Delgadillo
- Also a Torch leader!
- Zayra Juarez
- Expected class of 2025
- Neurobiology Major
- Career goal:Doctor of Medicine
- Why the slug lab? Coming back to the lab for my second summer was something I was looking forward to. After having such an amazing last summer, I was excited to come back with all the skills I had learned and use them to help new members succeed. There have been some ups and downs like any research but that’s what makes the lab so exciting. We are able to bring questions and concerns and have them answered without judgment.
- What’s been an interesting or exciting part of being part of the lab this summer? The most exciting part of this summer has been adding a new component to our regular experiment! Instead of only focusing on long-term sensitization of the slugs we now decided to introduce drugs that will be injected that either enhance or block forgetting.
- Anna Kurkowski
- Hello, my name is Anna Kurkowski and I am a rising senior this year. I am majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. I was enrolled and completed Dr. Irina Calin-Jageman’s neurobiology honors course where I saw my first sea slug. We had an opportunity to train and dissect the sea slug and perform RNA isolation, RT and PCR. Being able to work with these amazing creatures from start to finish was inspiring and intrigued me to continue working with them. I decided to apply for the summer research program in order to further my knowledge about how their memory and forgetting operates. In the lab I have had the opportunity to pre and post test the animals response to a small stimulus as well as training the animals to learn what a painful experience is. The training involves 4 rounds of shocks administered on and off for 10 seconds on the side they have been assigned to. These shocks are administered every 15 minutes and involve only one day of training. Once these animals have been taught what a painful memory is, they are then post tested to observe their behavior. I am also involved in providing the slugs with their drug injections. We have been injecting them with BPB as well a FMRFamide. By injecting them with a drug that we hope will enhance their ability to retain a memory for longer and a drug that we hope will decrease the ability to retain the memory for a longer period of time, we hope to be able to infer the effects of these drugs on the retention of memories. Being able to train and help with injections has been the highlight of the summer and I have learned an immense amount about how learning may work.
- Nelly Musajeva
- Hi everyone! My name is Nelly and I’m an incoming sophomore, majoring in neurobiology and biochemistry. To have this amazing opportunity to work in the Sluglab and actively explore the behavioral and molecular parts of forgetting in Aplysia Californica has been special to me, as I’ve always been fascinated by the aspect of forgetting, especially when it comes to forgetting the most shocking experiences, memories of which seem so substantial and so vivid in our minds… Despite being anxious about entering the lab after just completing my first year at Dominican, and having limited lab experience, being part of the Sluglab this summer has been both a pleasurable and a stimulating experience that has taught me many technical lab skills, and has boosted my confidence in doing research in the future. I have been the most excited about doing behavioral testing with the sea slugs, measuring their gill-withdrawal response to the pain-inducing stimuli, especially because I have never interacted with live animals in the research setting before. I’ve also really enjoyed dissecting both Aplysia California and Lumbricus Terrestris, and going through the RNA isolation protocol. I recently realized how thrilling and intriguing it has been to approach the last step of different protocols, and to finally be able to see the outcomes of our work. This excitement applies to both small scale results, such as seeing the high RNA concentration on the nanodrop machine, and the anticipation of the results of our bigger project of whether it is possible to block or enhance the forgetting in Aplysia by injecting it with BPB or FMRFamide. It has also been fun to work with other intellectually curious sluggies in our team, and learning about the importance of working as a team, and checking all our work (and even double and triple checking!!). In addition to being involved in the Sluglab, I enjoy reading, observing people’s behavior (of course), learning languages, meditating, running and listening to science podcasts.
- Leslie Valdez
- Hi everyone! My name is Leslie Valdez and I’m a current senior majoring in Neurobiology while minoring in Chemistry and Psychology. I’m involved on campus by participating in clubs like SustainDU and being the President of the Pre-Physician Assistant Association. During my free time, I love to read and travel to new food places. What I’m most excited about at the Slug Lab this summer is learning molecular lab skills and being able to present our work at Elmhurst and URSCI. This summer, my role in the lab is to record the duration of the slug’s reflexes, and I’m on my way to becoming a slug whisperer!
- Theresa Wilsterman
- Hello, my name is Theresa Wilsterman, and this is my second year in the Slug Lab. As I am entering my senior year at Dominican, I will be finishing up my requirements to graduate with majors in biochemistry and behavioral neuroscience and a minor in physics. Although I am excited to finally accomplish my academic goals I have set at Dominican, I am sad to think about leaving the slug lab. There are so many things I love about working in the slug lab but one of my favorite things to do is run reverse-transcription in Dr. CJ’s mini lab. I find a lot of satisfaction playing music through the computer speakers and flowing through a protocol with my partner.
- This year, however, I have developed a passion for working with others and training new members of the slug lab. Since everyone was new to the slug lab last year, we had to learn how to do everything at the same time. Lots of lessons were learned through mistakes, but ultimately helped me instruct others this year. Pre-labeling tubes or double-checking the settings on the shock box are examples of small details that I have emphasized to new sluggers. It’s exciting to see the newer generation of sluggers improve their behavioral and molecular technique! I can’t wait to come back in a few years and see how great the slug lab is doing and what they are up to.
- Diana Wittrock
- Hi! My name is Diana and I plan to major in biology and minor in health communications. Back before I was even enrolled here at Dominican, I remember attending an orientation for students interested in attending the university my senior year of high-school where Dr. Bob presented some of the basics of the slug research as a way to encourage potential students to get involved in undergraduate research. I immediately knew that was something I wanted to pursue in the future. Towards the end of my first year at Dominican, I sent in my application to join the Slug Lab research team, and was miraculously accepted! Although I felt extremely anxious to begin since I was only an incoming Sophomore and had limited lab experience, I was able to connect with like-minded people who mentored me through some of the more complicated protocols. I feel as though I’ve grown as not only a person, but an intellectual thinker, and I’m so fortunate to be involved with such meaningful work. This summer, I’ve been specializing in what we call “slug training,” which involves giving the animals we work with a painful memory by shocking them. I then administer injections of both FMRFamide and BPB in hopes that each drug can manipulate memory through gene activation or repression.
- Jash Zarate Torres
- Hello! My name is Jashui, but I go by Jash (pronounced like the avocado). I am a rising Junior at DU, majoring in Neurobiology with minors in Sociology and Chemistry in the pre-medicine track. Additionally, I am this year’s Moskal Scholar in the lab- shout out to Dr. Moskal for funding my research experience as a returning member to the Slug Lab from the Summer 2022 cohort!
- Hannah Danha
- Christian Gonzalez
- Expected class of 2023
- Biology and Chemistry Major
- Career goal: Physician’s Assistant
- Why the slug lab? I wanted to learn more about how genes can be regulated in the aspects of memory. I wanted to gain hands-on experience in a behavioral/molecular lab, and I also wanted to be a part of a team with similar interests as me.
- What’s been an interesting or exciting part of being part of the lab this summer? The most interesting thing from my time at the lab this summer would have to be working on the Aplysia, or slugs. I have never interacted with any live animals in the lab before this summer, so It was interesting getting to know more about the animal, and how to train the slugs for our experiment. Another exciting thing about this summer was being able to learn useful laboratory techniques such as PCR, RNA isolation, ect.
- Jaquelin Gutierrez
- Zayra Juarez
My name is Zayra, and I am studying neurobiology. I plan on graduating in 2025 and plan on going to med school to become a physician. I was interested in the slug lab because I wanted to learn more about memory and that was one of the big things we focused on. Everything about the slug lab has been interesting, from learning new techniques, learning from mistakes, and meeting amazing people. This summer has helped me become more confident as someone in science and helped me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.
- Steven Proutsos
- Theresa Wilsterman
- Expected year of graduation: 2024
- Career goal: I want to spend half of my time working in a clinical setting and the other half performing medical research.
- What made you want to work in the sluglab? What drew me into working in the slug lab, initially, was my curiosity of research. I’ve always liked asking “why” and enjoyed lab work in my classes, so I actively searched for a research opportunity in the summer. Towards the end of Neurobiology with Dr. CJ, we performed an experiment that explored the genes activated for learning and memory. At that point, I was hooked on the slug lab for its fascinating content and welcoming culture among the participants.
- What’s been an interesting or exciting part of being part of the lab this summer? After analyzing qPCR data with Dr. Bob and Dr. CJ I realized that the experiments we are conducting this summer are equivalent to a movie premier teaser. The four day protocol with the slugs gives us just enough information to understand the overall picture of learning and memory, while also hinting at the plot: forgetting. I am super excited to investigate how the gene expression changes by day 11 and the biological processes behind this memory, or lack thereof.
Jash Zarate Torres
Summer 2021 and 2020
No lab students due to the pandemic 🙁