Chelsea McCallister entered into the laboratory of Dr. Nikolas Nikolaidis as an undergraduate at CSUF in the summer of 2009. Currently, Chelsea is starting her second year as a graduate student. Chelsea is continuing her research on the effects of lipid binding on the chaperone function of seventy-kilodalton heat shock proteins (Hsp70s). Chelsea is working to determine the mechanistic effect lipid-binding has on Hsp70s and whether the lipid-binding function of Hsp70s is a novel regulatory mechanism for these highly conserved, and critical molecular chaperones. Chelsea’s research will advance our understanding of how lipid-binding contributes to the regulation of Hsp70s, and how these effects in turn regulate the cellular stress response.

In addition, Chelsea will continue to explore functional evolution of immune-relevant proteins, as she did in her first publication, Comparative genomics and evolution of the alpha-defensin multigene family in primates.

Chelsea has presented her research at several local and national conferences including ASBMB 2011, where she received honorable mention in the Undergraduate poster competition. Chelsea also received honorable mention for her NSF Graduate Research Fellowship application. In addition to being the first HHMI Master’s student, Chelsea is also president of the Biology Graduate Student Club.

Upon completing her thesis and obtaining a Master’s degree in Biological Science, Chelsea plans to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD in molecular biology, molecular evolution, and biochemistry. Chelsea’s research interests include protein-membrane interactions, and the molecular evolution of the stress and immune responses.