Graduate Student, The Larracuente Lab
You work in a lab. What are you currently researching?
I study the evolution of Segregation Distorter (SD) and Y-chromosomes in fruit flies. SD is a selfish genetic element. Male individuals with one SD and one wild type homologous chromosomes will mainly produce sperm with SD by killing other sperm. This process involves the interaction of a new duplicated gene, noncoding sequences and environment effects. I am trying to figure out how SD kills sperm and the interaction and dynamics of SD and other genes, e.g. suppressors in a population. Y-chromosomes are typically degenerated and contain many repetitive sequences and only few genes. However, they are also dark matter of genomes that contribute huge chunks of genome and affect many traits. I assembled several flies’ Y-chromosomes with a fancy sequenced technology from a company called PacBio. My hope is that I will reveal the mystery of Y-chromosomes in flies with these sequences.
What was it that originally sparked your interest in biology?
Biology is an interdisciplinary science consisting of physics, chemistry, math and computer science. It is pretty awesome that I can work with methods from the different fields. In addition, we only know a little about biology compared to other fields. We can address what happened before the big bang and study the evolution of cosmos and stars several light-years away, while we still cannot address the origin of life or predict changes. I’d like to say that predicting the changes of life is my dream for studying biology.
What do you enjoy most about working here at the U of R?
The people in this department, including faculty, students and facilities, are so nice. I can easily get help from people. In addition, people enjoy sharing and discussion very much here. I can image that there are many great ideas and results originating from these interactions.
How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?
I go to the lab…. just kidding. After leaving the lab, I usually read novels or surf the web. I also like eating because I am starving all the time. To keep fit, I play basketball with friends weekly and baseball occasionally. I also enjoy play with my friends’ pets but I don’t have time to adopt one. Friends’ pets are the best.