Summer Centered: Arielle Schultz ’20 Delves Deep Into the Mysteries of the Zebrafish Genome
Funded by the Frances Velay Fellowship, the biology major is interning in Assistant Professor Roshan Jain’s on-campus lab for the summer.
Thanks to funding from the KINSC’s Frances Velay Women's Science Research Fellowship Program, Arielle Schultz ’20, a biology major and aspiring neurologist, is putting the laboratory skills she’s learned from two years of science courses to good use this summer. An intern in Assistant Professor of Biology Roshan Jain’s lab, she’ll be working with zebrafish—small, translucent freshwater minnows—to examine the role genes play in regulating individual behavior.
"Specifically, I am looking at a mutation in the ap2s1 gene that prevents fish from carrying out a certain kind of learning, known as habituation,” says Schultz, who is also a health studies and neuroscience double minor. “We are working on a system to inject a wild-type, or normal, copy of the gene into fish to see if that will allow them to habituate normally even if they have the mutant copy of the gene.”
Though working with live animals means that Schultz has to contend with certain obstacles in her day-to-day work, she believes that her research is all the richer for it.
"By working to better understand the pathways and mechanisms that underlie habituation in zebrafish,” Schultz says, “this type of research could potentially shed light on human illnesses as well, because it is thought that the process of habituation could play a role in the pathogenesis of human neurological conditions such as ADHD, autism, and schizophrenia. [As someone with an] interest in medicine, there are implications here for human health, which I find really exciting.”
Schultz is excited for the opportunity to learn more about the complex scientific concepts she’s been introduced to through classes like “Biology 200” and “Behavioral Neuroscience.” And one thing’s for sure: her responsibilities in the lab—which include setting up mating crosses between adult fish, collecting and sorting embryos, and caring for larvae—will definitely add depth to her understanding of them.
"Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.