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In the summer of 2022, we hosted Lia Jones, an incoming freshman at UC Santa Cruz, for an eight-week summer internship in the laboratory. Lia worked side-by-side with mentor, Zak Vilen, on measuring the cellular responses of galectin-1 in aged muscle cells.  Lia describes her experience in this unedited blog post below.


by Lia Jones (UC Santa Cruz) 
October 20, 2022

I believed that switching from virtual pipetting during high school Zoom classes to working in a chemical biology lab would be quite a daunting task. And it was, but alongside my nerves came the excitement of learning about a subject I never heard of before. It’s intimidating to read a research paper and barely understand the abstract, but so rewarding to be able to explain that same paper, replicate experiments, and expand on their research all within a 8 week time span. 


This summer, I learned about C2C12s’ (mice skeletal muscle cells) growth and development which served as the background for my work. Under the guidance of Zak Vilen (a.k.a the coolest lab safety officer),  I studied how cellular senescence may decrease myogenesis. My experiments included western blots, fluorescence microscopy, and single cell gel electrophoresis assays to show changes in myosin heavy chain expression and DNA damage changed with age. Based on my research, aged C2C12 cells had more DNA damage and a smaller differentiation capacity when using myosin heavy chain as a marker. In the future, I would love to continue studying the role of DNA damage in myogenesis by using a different marker such as myogenin and exploring how galectin-1’s role in myogenesis is disrupted by DNA damage. 


I can not thank Mia and the Huang Lab enough for their patience and welcoming personalities. It was evident (and inspiring)  that all lab members were passionate about their work and willing to go out of their way to help me. I woke up everyday excited to enter MB Room 101. I couldn't have dreamed of a better experience for my first few months of adulthood.

Lia (right) with mentor Zak (left) getting ready to attack muscle aging.

Lia at work.

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