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Biochemistry major conducts research at Texas A&M

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Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Westminster College student Emma Parker spent 10 weeks at Texas A&M University (TAMU) over the summer identifying deubiquitinating proteins for the ubiquitin-like protein UFM-1 through a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Parker, a senior biochemistry major and honors student from Poolesville, Md., worked in the laboratory of TAMU’s Gradipore Chair of Chemistry Dr. Wenshe Liu and was mentored by graduate student Swatadipta Chakraborty.

In Liu’s lab, she attempted to conduct protein identification and discover unknown deubiquitinates (DUBS) that would associate with the protein UFM-1. She utilized different techniques such as liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and proteomics to seek identification.

Parker cites the research and laboratory coursework she participated in at Westminster as vital sources of preparation that helped prepare her for the opportunity at TAMU.

She speaks highly of the experience and is plans to pursue a Ph.D. She is currently applying to graduate programs in microbiology and adjacent fields.

“I had an awesome experience and really grew both as a person and as an academic,” she said. “Working at Texas A&M in Dr. Liu’s laboratory helped cement my decision to work toward my Ph.D. and it allowed me a first-hand observation and immersive experience into the world of academia and what I might experience as a graduate student in this field.”

At the conclusion of the program, she prepared a thesis, poster presentation and oral presentation on her research “Investigation of Cysteine Protease Binding Partners for the Ubiquitin-Like Protein UFM-1 Using Activity-Based Probes.”

For more information about Westminster’s biochemistry program, click here.