The story goes that in the summer before my senior year of high school, I sent an email to the Science Dean at my local university (LTU, where I eventually went for my Master's), Dr. Hsiao-ping Moore, asking if I could study under her. My mom drove me to the interview. Supposedly, the reason she agreed to the internship was that I said "I didn't understand anything in her papers, but that I wanted to". I had a year of mentorship in wet biochemistry to study lipid droplets, which are exactly what they sound like: droplets of lipids, in large part fat. But they're actually proper organelles in their own right, with a protein coat and a complex system of regulation that varies depending on cell type: Brown fat, for instance, has the protein perilipin-5 which supports basal or constant breakdown of fat, in order to keep you warm, while white fat is dominated by perilipin-1 and needs to be induced to give up its stores of fat. A holy grail in weight loss would convert white into brown fat --- just try to stay out of hot kitchens!

My final independent project involved growing cardiac muscle cells (annoying, though watching them beat is pretty cool) to test for common lipid droplet proteins, and try to transfect (introduce) gene expression for missing proteins. Below is a poster presentation I gave on the topic, and then a review on the perilipin family of proteins that I wrote a couple of years later at university.

Poster in progress oakland.ppt
Perilipin paper