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Westminster senior researches proteins with help of Drinko Center grant

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Posted on Monday, November 8, 2021

With the help of the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, Westminster analytical science senior Emilee Spozarski of Pittsburgh, conducted a research project alongside her adviser Dr. Karen Resendes.

Spozarski and Resendes, professor of biology and director of the Drinko Center, researched the effects of the RanBP2 protein knockdown on the cellular localization of STAT3. RanBP2 is a binding protein that makes up the nuclear pore complex, while STAT3 mediates the expression of a variety of genes in response to cell stimuli—essentially stating that the research being done was to reduce the expression of the RanBP2 to determine where in cells STAT3 will accumulate.

The grant allowed Spozarski to purchase the RanBP2 siRNA, the main protein in her research, while also providing travel funding to attend the annual American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) meeting.

Although only starting in the biology department her sophomore year, Spozarski was still able to apply topics to her research, as well as learn new laboratory techniques.

“Since starting, Dr. Resendes has been helpful with taking a different route to advise me unlike other peers,” says Spozarski. “She provided me with the necessary tools to be independent in my research and I am grateful for her patience.”

The duo worked together to investigate genetic conditions that had connections to nuclear transport, helping to narrow down which proteins could be studied further for the research project.

Spozarski said that having funds to complete in-depth individual research is beneficial to personal and career exploration—potentially keeping a door open for another student to start where one left off later down the road.

“I was very nervous to start this project due to my late start in the program, but I liked the research more than I thought,” said Spozarski.

Her research will be continued in the spring semester as she sets off to attend the ASBMB in April of 2022.

For more information about the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, please contact Dr. Karen Resendes, director, at or visit