Dr. Julia Brumaghim

College of Science

Area of Research:
Metal-mediated DNA damage and its prevention by antioxidants

481 Hunter Laboratories
Dr. Julia Brumaghim

Proposed role for the Scholar as an undergraduate researcher in the Mentor's lab.
Accomplishing the research goals of the Scholar's project is only the beginning of the Scholar's role in my group. After the appropriate safety training, having the Scholar become comfortable with laboratory policies, experimental procedures, and overarching project goals is the first goal. To accomplish this, the Scholar will be matched with a senior graduate student mentor who is working on a similar project, and the graduate student and I will guide the Scholar in setting up and understanding the rationale behind the experiments. As the Scholar becomes experimentally proficient, she/he will be encouraged to take full ownership of the project by proposing hypotheses, designing experiments, and interpreting her/his collected data. An advanced Scholar is expected to be a research leader by training new undergraduates to provide project continuity and to effectively communicate her/his research orally and in writing through manuscript preparation and scientific presentations.

Frequency and nature of the planned interactions between the Scholar and Mentor.
The Scholar and I (and, at the beginning, the Scholar's graduate student mentor) will meet weekly. These meetings will be used to develop a weekly research plan, to discuss experimental methods (such as appropriate synthetic procedures or prioritizing compounds for testing), to answer questions about provided background reading, methods, and/or results, and to guide the Scholar in data interpretation and assessing how to best meet the goals of the research project. In addition to weekly meetings, I will guide the Scholar through research techniques in the laboratory, tips for literature searching and understanding research articles, and other necessary skills. The Scholar will attend weekly group meetings with other group members and me and will be responsible for presenting his/her work orally in group meeting and in writing once per semester.

Specific plans the Mentor will employ.
Before a student can take ownership of a research project, she/he must understand the nature of laboratory research. Unlike typical classes, answers to research questions (hypotheses) are unknown, and the student must have confidence in the quality of her/his results to answer these questions. In addition, the student must be able to critically evaluate literature in the field, to communicate her/ his research results effectively, and to place these results in context. To encourage scientific development, I will evaluate background reading in the research field with a beginning Scholar and discuss how to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a research publication. This exercise will help the Scholar fully understand aspects of experimental design, data interpretation, and conclusions that can be extended to her/his own project. With my help, the Scholar will also analyze and interpret the data she/he collects and design studies, not just conduct experiments. Understanding how a collection of results leads to a conclusion to support or refute a hypothesis will help the Scholar think about how to effectively communicate her/his results each semester when preparing group meeting (or scientific conference) presentations and when writing up her/his research results in scientific manuscript format.

Active undergraduate researchers in Mentor's lab. I am now advising 4 undergraduate researchers.

Total number of UGRS mentored to date: 38

Oxidative damage leads to common diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidants that prevent oxidative damage are found in a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, teas, and chocolate. If we could identify which of the thousands of known dietary antioxidants are most effective, they could help treat and prevent these diseases. Unfortunately, antioxidant studies are often scattered and scientifically limited. We use a variety of chemical, biochemical, and biological techniques to develop quantitative predictive models for antioxidant behavior to identify the most effective antioxidants for preventing oxidative damage and disease.