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Mentees Collaborating With Their Mentors for Undergrad Research Programs

By September 17, 2021October 6th, 20213 Comments

In collaboration with the U01 project at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, undergraduate-level students collaborated with their near-peer mentors in the lab to create explainer videos about the research they’re working on.

NRMN is thrilled to highlight the hard work of these creators and share their projects with our network.

This first project was created by undergrad student, Neptali Flores and his mentors, Drs. Cassie Ettinger and Jason Stajich. Neptali Flores is a third-year student at San Jose State University, majoring in Biology with a concentration in Physiology. He joined the Stajich Lab (remotely) the summer of 2021 as a mentee to Dr. Cassie Ettinger and Dr. Jason Stajich of the University of California, Riverside for the National Summer Undergraduate Research Project. Dr. Cassie Ettinger is a postdoctoral scholar at UC Riverside advised by Dr. Jason Stajich. She currently works on a variety of genomic projects at the interface of both host (insect, amphibian, seagrass) and microbiome (bacteria, fungi, virus) interactions. Originally from California, she loves the outdoors, cats and dark chocolate.

As far as their research goes, we know very little about environmental viruses, yet they represent a largely unexplored genetic diversity and likely have important roles in the genomics of the hosts they infect. Previously, the Stajich lab (with collaborators) generated metagenomes from terrestrial cyanobacteria cultures isolated from extreme habitats. The goal of this project was to use web-based bioinformatic tools to search for viruses in these terrestrial cyanobacteria metagenomes, to assess the viral community composition and identify possible host bacteria that these viruses infect.

Check out this video explaining more of their research HERE!

We have another project created by undergrad student,  Gabriel Jimenez and his mentor, Lauren. Gabriel Jimenez is a senior at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania majoring in Animal Behavior. He was born and raised in New York, New York and hopes to spend the rest of his life doing some sort of research. Lauren is a third year PhD student in the EEB program at Indiana University studying the role of context in house mouse vocal communication. Through her work at the Hurley Lab, she is particularly interested in how certain aspects of an animal’s internal state affect how they process various external stimuli during courtship interactions. She hopes to broaden her work to investigate how experience with certain stressors and changes in an animal’s welfare may influence their perception and communication.

For their research, in order to understand how male mouse odor cues paired with female courtship rejection affect male mouse courtship behavior, they assessed the ultrasonic vocal output of dominant and subordinate male mice as they were subjected to playback of female rejection squeaks in trials with varying odor treatments. They found that pairing female rejection calls with male mouse odor significantly decreased male mouse vocalizations during the trial, and that dominants and subordinates modulated their vocal output differently across the trials.

Check out this video explaining more of their research HERE!

Great job to these mentors and mentees for collaborating on interesting research projects and discovering new data!


  • Cassie says:

    I am having trouble accessing the videos – I believe you need to change the access settings?? Currently getting an error that permission is denied.

  • Emelyn Rodriguez says:

    Congratulations to both! specially Gabriel Jimenez who worked so hard all Summer to give his best work. I am proud of you! Keep up the good work.

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