Andrea Vines, Biology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Derek Beahm, Biology
Andrea is a senior Biology major with a minor in Chemistry, and expects to graduate in Spring 2020. After graduation, she plans to pursue her research interests in molecular and cell biology during a gap year before attending medical school.
During her fellowship, Andrea made an important laboratory discovery by demonstrating that the ability of CHO cells to communicate through gap junction channels was highly sensitive to the age of the cell monolayer. This discovery provided a long-sought explanation for discrepancies in the data of other student projects conducted over the last two years. Andrea also demonstrated that gap junction assembly in CHO cells could be dramatically enhanced by increasing total membrane protein levels whereas reducing potential steric or electrostatic hindrance to gap junction formation was ineffective in making the cells communicate more. These findings will be investigated further by future students, with the intent of publishing results incorporating Andrea’s contribution in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.