When Linda Nguyen began her undergraduate career at UNL, she knew she wanted to make an impact by exploring effective cancer treatments. She searched for a research opportunity by first reviewing the College of Dentistry’s website. After identifying a faculty member who was conducting research on oral cancer—of special interest to her—she contacted Dr. Greg Oakley to learn more about his research and discuss the possibility of working with him as a UCARE undergraduate researcher. Soon after her meeting with Dr. Oakley, Linda began her research at the College of Dentistry. “It was a double score for me because not only did I find a research project that focused on treating cancer, but I also get to spend my time at the College of Dentistry where, hopefully, I will be able to pursue my training to become a dentist in the near future,” Linda said.
The project, Signal Transduction Pathways that Regulate the Cellular Responses to DNA Damage, focuses on how cells are damaged by chemotherapy. When a patient undergoes chemotherapy, good cells are damaged along with the bad cells during the treatment. The goal of the research is to find a way to protect the healthy cells from being destroyed by targeting a protein called Replication Protein A (RPA).
Linda’s work in the lab isn’t just about finding an answer; it also involves understanding the processes as well. As she noted, “The experiments that I conduct in my research lab have helped me succeed in my biology classes. Procedures such as western blotting, polymerase chain reaction, and gel electrophoresis I already know how to do. When it comes time to apply principles in the lab or learn the material in class, I’m one step ahead of my peers.”
Linda says she most enjoys the learning and exploration that comes with her research. “I love every aspect of researching. It is the excitement of discovery that makes me love it so much. The moment of any finding is truly exhilarating. Having this opportunity to find more effective ways to treat cancer has been one of the most rewarding learning experiences of my undergraduate career.”
Interested in conducting undergraduate research like Linda? You may be interested in:
“The experiments I conduct in my research lab have helped me in my biology classes. …. When it comes time to apply principles in the lab or learn the material in class, I’m one step ahead of my peers.”
--Linda Nguyen, UCARE researcher