This week we caught up with Gabby Molloseau, a Junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology and Spanish! Gabby and her mentors, Dr. Michael Giuliano and Dr. Marcello Forconi, received a SURF 2021 Grant to study the intricate nature of cell surfaces in order to better understand cell signaling and communication.
Gabby shared with us a brief introduction of their research, “The environments of cell surfaces are notoriously complex and play a large role in intercellular communication and other biological processes. The interaction between water molecules embedded in the cell’s membrane and other molecules is what creates such a convoluted environment, that has yet to be researched fully. It is believed that the surface of the cell near the membrane will reflect similar properties to organic solvents, since most of the nearby water is bound up by the membrane itself. Previous work in the lab has allowed us to synthesize small organic reporter molecules that will now be used to embed into mimics of the membrane of a cell. Atoms in the reporter molecule will give unique spectroscopic signals, due to their sensitivity to the solvent surrounding the cell’s surface. These signals will allow for a better understanding of the properties of the environment of the cell’s membrane. Understanding the intricate nature of cell surfaces will allow for a better understanding of cell signaling and communication, the binding of medicines to cellular targets and how it affects their designed purpose, and how structure and function of biomolecules are related to the their environment.”
“I hope readers see how much fun organic synthesis can be,” Gabby added. “My favorite memory from this project was my first time characterizing the fluorine and hydrogen NMR because it confirmed that I successfully synthesized the molecule. I gained lab technique and learned how to perform many lab processes, such as flash column chromatography.”
Attached are photos from Gabby’s project. Thank you to Gabby for sharing your SURF 2021 experience!