William QuWilliam Qu

Major: Biochemistry       
Expected Graduation: Class of 2016            
Hometown: Lilburn, GA

Project title: "Engineering a MGMT Mutation in Hematopoietic Cells with the CRISPR/Cas System to Confer Resistance to High Dose Chemotherapy"
: Paul Tesar, Ph.D.
Mentor Department: Genetics and Genome Sciences

How did you become involved in undergraduate research at CASE? 
I reached out to Dr. Tesar during the spring of my freshman year and explained my interest in his research with induced pluripotent stem cells. The following summer, I received funding from the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine ENGAGE program to work in Dr. Tesar's lab.

How has your idea/project evolved through the academic years? 
During my first summer in the lab, I worked alongside my graduate student mentor Zachary Nevin to study the neurodegenerative disorder Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease. As I became more proficient in laboratory techniques, Dr. Tesar provided me with the independence and freedom to explore new projects. I transitioned over to my current project--investigating the use of gene-editing tools to decrease chemotherapeutic side effects in cancer patients--toward the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year and have since continued to work on this project. I was generously provided SOURCE funding during the summer of 2014, which allowed me to successfully engineer a genetic modification in embryonic stem cells that provides chemotherapeutic resistance. One day, I hope this gene-editing technology will be applied in actual cancer patients so that they receive less harmful and more effective treatment.

What successes or difficulties have you encountered in this project or others? 
Laboratory research can be frustrating--experiments are not always successful and sometimes provide unexpected results. I have thus learned that proper experimental design is incredibly important in order to accurately test a hypothesis. Working in a lab has also taught me how to critically analyze data in order to formulate reasonable conclusions and avoid experimental obstacles. Despite these challenges, I consider my overall experience in Dr. Tesar's lab a huge success. Dr. Tesar provided me with an in-depth exposure to biomedical research, allowing me to develop characteristics that are universally valued, such as the ability to problem solve. Ultimately, my time in Dr. Tesar's lab introduced me to the cutting-edge work done in genetics and deepened my curiosity in basic biomedical science.

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Eric Pierce-Smith '16

[Electrical Engineering Major] Project Title: Localized Surface Plasmon Study for Light Emitting Diodes

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Erika Cyphert '16

[Biomedical Engineering Major] "This experience really pushed my abilities to independently come up with an answer to a difficult problem...it allowed me to innovate and gave me satisfaction once I was able to solve the problem independently."