Currently working with Dr. Chandra Srinivasan as her mentor, Cynthia Bach is studying free radical mediated stress (interplay between metals and oxidative stress)—specifically with divalent manganese in the model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans. Organisms have many enzymes and small molecules that provide antioxidant defense through the counteraction of the detrimental effects of reactive oxygen species. Although the mechanism through which it operates is still not clearly understood, ionic manganese has been shown to provide antioxidant-like effects in many organisms, including bacteria, yeast, and C. elegans. Stress response genes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), heat shock protein, and catalase are upregulated by the daf-16 forkhead transcription factor. Therefore, it is hypothesized that Mn(II) exhibits its antioxidant-like properties through the activation of the Daf-16 transcription factor, which regulates expression of genes that respond to oxidative stress in cells. Cynthia is currently studying the effects of manganese on gene expression in response to heat shock and oxidative stress and is also looking at upstream and downstream targets of the daf-16 transcription factor in hopes of further understanding stress response in C. elegans and the mechanisms through which Mn(II) exerts its antioxidant-like properties.
Cynthia is actively involved on the CSUF campus. She has been on the committee for the Cal State Fullerton Relay for Life for the past two years, working with the American Cancer Society to help raise funds and awareness for cancer research. She has also been involved in the on-campus organization, "Colleges Against Cancer", and will be the president of this club in Fall 2010. Cynthia is a member of the University's Honors Program and has continually been on the Dean's list for the College of Natural Science and Mathematics.
She has also had other research experience, participating in a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Washington State University and Kyushu University in Japan, in the summer of 2009. She is working on collaborative project at UCLA for the summer of 2010. As a biological science major and chemistry minor, Cynthia hopes to obtain a PharmD/PhD degree. She would like to pursue a career in pharmacy and is interested in pharmacology.
Cynthia is starting her second year in the HHMI program and will be graduating in the spring of 2011.
The HHMI program is a great opportunity to obtain undergraduate research experience and provides a nurturing environment where students are able to learn hands-on, become more disciplined in the sciences, and network with other students that have common career interests.