BY GABRIEL PADILLA
2013 Symposium on Student Research,
Creative Activities and Innovation Finalist
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to shadow student researchers at CSUSM when I was still a student at Palomar College. My experiences in Dr. Deborah Kristan’s lab really sparked my interest in research. To me, conducting real scientific experiments is exciting. I enjoy reading the literature and trying to enhance my understanding of what is known about the parasites that we study, and I am happy knowing that the research that I am participating in is actually adding to the foundation of knowledge in the scientific community.
While working in the lab, I have learned numerous laboratory techniques that I can take with me into other classes and future studies. Most importantly however, I have learned how to think like a scientist and how to design, conduct, analyze and report on an experiment.
About my Research
My research focuses on the interactions between intestinal parasites and host immune cells. In one of my latest studies, I was interested in isolating the parasite and the immune cells and seeing how they affect each other in a test tube. This was a pilot experiment, which means that I tried doing something that nobody has ever done before. My results did not actually support what I was expecting to find, but that is still a valuable finding because now I have a starting point. I can now go back and play with the different experimental groups by adding more T cells in culture or adding more parasites to try and find some interesting results. I am most interested in these interactions between immune cells and parasites because the parasites are able to release chemicals that can actually control or depress the host’s immune system. I hope that someday we might be able to extract these chemicals from the parasites and use them to treat autoimmune diseases.
Gabriel Padilla is among the 10 finalists representing CSUSM at the 27th annual statewide Student Research Competition held at Cal Poly Pomona on May 10-11. Hear firsthand how his research is leading to new discoveries, positively impacting his education and propeling him toward his future aspirations.