CIE Researcher of Distinction, March 2015
Each month, the Center for Inclusive Education showcases the outstanding research being conducted by one of our talented scholars in our Research Café series. In addition, we recognize this scholar as a Researcher of Distinction and share the details of his/her journey to becoming an accomplished scholar. This month's Researcher of Distinction is Jennifer DeLeon, PhD candidate in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Jennifer presented her talk, ‘PI3K p110β Maintains Bioenergetic Homeostasis by Regulating Endocytic Turnover of the Glucose Transporter GLUT1’ on Wednesday, March 11, 2015.
Jennifer's Path Into Research
Jennifer grew up in Jackson, New Jersey where she attended Jackson Memorial High School. Jennifer’s interest in science took a defining turn during this time when she attended a talk about the completion of the human genome project. “This was a very exciting moment in the field of cell biology and I remember thinking this is was what I was going to do with my life,” she said. Jennifer went on to receive her BS degree from the University of Connecticut and MS degree from Long Island University. During her master’s study, she was selected to attend the AGEP-Summer Research Institute at Stony Brook University and embarked on her journey to becoming a scientific researcher. Jennifer attributes her excellent academic and research mentors for her great experiences as a summer intern. They were so great in fact that, quickly upon finishing the summer program, she applied and was accepted into Stony Brook’s PhD program for molecular and cellular biology. Now as a PhD student, Jennifer has been recognized for her work through NIH grants, department awards for excellence in research and service, and travel awards to attend national conferences. Jennifer is the founder of the MCB Department Research Newsletter and co-founder of the PhD Career Ladder Program, in which she helps other PhD students develop their individual career plans. Jennifer is an active member of the Center for Inclusive Education; she is a Turner Fellow, participates in the Community of Student Mentors Program, and teaches a research methods course for incoming summer interns.
Jennifer's Current Research
Describe the work you will be presenting for your Research Café.
My presentation will outline the role of a family of enzymes, termed PI3Ks and determine their function in novel pathways of cancer, growth, and metabolism. The main finding of my work shows when we genetically alter the catalytic subunit “p110β”, we can alter the cells ability to traffic proteins for degradation. This block in protein breakdown causes increased levels of the glucose transporter GLUT1. With elevated levels of GLUT1, cells can increase their utilization of glucose, thus showing an evasion of normal cell responses to starvation conditions, like increased growth, protection from cell death, and the ability to form tumors.
Are there any other projects you are currently working on?
Other ongoing projects in the laboratory include modeling genetic disease of cancers using p110β knockout mice and testing of inhibitors as potential drug targets.
What was the deciding factor for you to come to Stony Brook for your graduate studies?
I came to Stony Brook for the AGEP- SRI for a summer research internship. While here, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and got to know the faculty in my department and at the CIE. It was an extremely supportive environment and I was sure this support would help me through graduate school. I applied and was accepted shortly upon completion of the summer program.
What are your future goals?
I am interested in careers that will utilize my scientific research background and broaden my abilities for effective science communication, such as working as a journal editor or for scientific societies.
What do you enjoy most about research?
Research is exciting to me because you need to always be questioning your science. You will constantly be thinking of your work and looking at your projects from many angles. When one outcome does not support your hypothesis you need to reevaluate your ideas and try again. There are no limitations in research if you can be a creative thinker.