Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Sara Ratican Rose Hills

Calcium Imaging in Drosophila Melanogaster

One of the fundamental aims of current neuroscience research is to understand how external sensory inputs and internal states are represented in the brain, and how neuronal circuits process these inputs to ultimately alter behavior. In order to decipher the underlying mechanisms behind this process, my research looks at how different tastes are distinguished by the brain in Drosophila Melanogaster. Calcium ions serve as a primary intracellular messenger in neurons. During electrical activity, intracellular calcium concentrations rise 10 to 100 times higher in active neurons. My project will use transgenic flies expressing calcium-sensitive fluorescent proteins in taste neurons. These fluorescent proteins allow for calcium imaging experiments, which will enable me to monitor in vivo taste responses in gustatory neuronal populations with single-cell resolution. Ultimately, this will allow for a better understanding the anatomy of neural connectivity as well as provide information on how gustatory neuronal populations participate in relevant activity patterns.

Message To Sponsor

It is an honor to be chosen as 2014 SURF/Rose Hills Fellow. I would like to thank the Rose Hills Foundation and those who helped to fund my summer research as they have allowed me pursue a field that I am deeply passionate about. I would also like to thank Kristin Scott for inviting me to participate in the exciting research her lab is currently working on. I know that this experience will further fuel my love for research and neuroscience and will help prepare me for graduate school.
Profile image of Sara Ratican
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology - Neurobiology
Mentor: Kristin Scott, Molecular Cell Biology
Sponsor: SURF Rose Hills fellow
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