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Intern Profile: Niki Ulug BA ’14

July 07, 2014

Niki Ulug BA ’14

Major: Biology
Hometown: Austin, Texas

Can you tell us what you’re doing this summer? What are your basic duties as an intern?

This summer I have been working as a research assistant in Fred Robinson’s lab in the Junger Center at Oregon Health & Science University. The Robinson Lab is researching how mutations in members of the myotubularin family of PI 3-phosphatases lead to Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) peripheral neuropathy. This disease is a commonly inherited neurological disorder characterized by a loss of motor nerve function. In CMT patients, the motor nerves are observed to have dysfunctional myelination and demyelination. These mutations in PI are thought to cause alterations in endosomal-lysosomal membrane trafficking. The Robinson Lab is investigating how specifically PtdIns3P and PtdIns(3,5)P2 lead to cellular dysfunction and this neurological disease.

I have been working on an independent project that is heavily based in cell and molecular biology. With the help of other members of the lab, I have most recently been working on complicated cloning techniques to prepare for experiments that could contribute to our understanding of the molecular mechanism of this disease. I have also been learning what other members of the lab are doing and the methods they are using.

How has Lewis & Clark supported you in the process of finding, securing, and funding your internship?

Like many of my peers, I have Assistant Professor of Biology Tamily Weissman-Unni to thank for helping me secure my intern position. I knew that I wanted to do research this summer, and Professor Weissman-Unni put me in contact with Fred Robinson. Receiving the Miller award and spending my summer doing research seemed like the perfect way to explore the possibility of a career in research, and the best way to get my foot in the door at OHSU. Additionally, I would like to thank all of my professors, especially my mentor, Professor of Biology Deborah Lycan, who was the first to teach me to think critically like a scientist. Without the Miller award, it is unlikely that I would have the opportunity to do research this summer. 

How do you see this internship leading to a career in your chosen field and aiding in your overall career development?

I have only been at OHSU for a month, and I am already working to secure a research technician job here for the fall. I am nothing short of amazed by how many labs there are at OHSU and how many of them are doing fascinating and groundbreaking research. Everyone in my lab has been incredibly helpful in suggesting people to contact about potential research jobs and insight into the graduate school experience. 

The purpose of the Miller Summer Internship Award is to underwrite or supplement expenses of students at Lewis & Clark College who are engaged in scientific research internships in the mathematical and natural sciences. This opportunity is made possible by a generous grant from the Miller Foundation. 

Career Development Biology Department


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