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Undergraduate Researcher of the Week: Alizay Rizvi

Methods to build quantitative gene analysis

September 8, 2020 2:39 PM

Alizay Rizvi is a senior Biological Sciences major, and a URA Scholar.

Title of your research project: Characterizing the gene regulatory networks controlling planarian fission. 

Describe your project: Planarians are worms that can reproduce asexually by undergoing fission, a poorly-understood process that results into two separate pieces each regenerating a complete new worm. The overall goal of my project is to characterize the genes that control planarian fission behavior. The specific aims include the design of a protocol to obtain planarian worms that are about to fission and experimentally analyze their gene expression patterns with in situ hybridization assays. These results will allow me to characterize the genes controlling planarian fission and validate a mechanistic model of this size-dependent behavior.

Who is your mentor(s) for your projectMy mentor for this project is Dr. Daniel Lobo.

How did you become interested in this project?

I was reading about the research being conducted in Dr.Lobos lab on the biological sciences building, and the work really stood out to me. I was fascinated by the phenomenon being studied and was interested in getting involved,

taking part in the research, and getting a deeper understanding of planarian regeneration. 

 What has been the hardest part about your research/what was the most unexpected thing about being a researcher? My research has just begun, therefore, I have not hit any roadblocks yet. However, the hardest part about research in general is not getting the results you expected which forces you to come up with alternative explanations. 

What has been the most rewarding part? The most rewarding part has been the knowledge I have gained as a result of the literature review I have conducted as well as through wet lab experiments. 

How will you disseminate your research? I plan on disseminating my research through an URCAD presentation, professional conferences and potentially a journal paper. 

What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research? My advice to anyone looking to get involved in research would be to look for something that interests you, & you would like to learn more about. There’s something out there for everyone, you just have to explore your options! 

What are your career goals? My long term career goal is to work as a pediatric neurologist. I plan on attending medical school & further specializing in order to achieve my career goals. 


[Originally posted on the Undergraduate Research myUMBC group]

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