You have permission to edit this article.

Senior biochem participates in summer REU program

  • Updated
  • 0

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.-- A Westminster College biochemistry major completed an in-person National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded summer research internship at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, giving her an important high-level hands-on learning experience.

Nicole Mackenstein

Senior Nicole Mackenstein of Ellwood City, Pa., participated in a 10-week NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, which supports active research participation by undergraduate students. During Mackenstein’s internship, she researched various biophysical characterization methods to compare stability of different histone mRNA degradation intermediates—a crucial process that allows the cell to properly package DNA. Her focus was on the trimmed, uridylated and histone mRNA intermediates, allowing her to better understand the mechanism that takes place.

Alongside her mentor Dr. Rita Mihailescu, chair and professor of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Mackenstein conducted many quenching experiments to quantify binding of proteins to the stem loop that occurs within the ternary complex. They also used multiple native gel shifts to show conformations and binding between all the intermediates.

This was Mackenstein’s second summer participating in an REU program at Duquesne University. In summer 2020, she participated remotely in the program, during which she modeled the surface and potential surface reactions of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, otherwise known as the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.

“Last summer I was able to work computationally, but to actually work in-person was really special,” said Mackenstien.

To wrap up her internship, Mackenstein was given the opportunity to present her research at the University of Michigan and at Duquesne University.

“My biggest takeaway was finding my passion for research,” said Mackenstein. “I highly recommend this program, especially if you are hesitatant on doing research.”

After graduation Mackenstein plans to pursue a Ph.D.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Live Titan Radio Stream