The UCLA SPUR-LABS summer program provides a rigorous research training experience for undergraduates with interests in a broad range of bioscience disciplines—from molecules to organisms and from basic to translational science.
Meet Ashley Tarchione, a third year Neuroscience major at University of Nevada, Reno. This summer she is doing research in Dr. Rachelle Crosbie-Watson’s lab.
How did you choose SPUR-LABS?
Ashley: I knew I wanted to do something in biological sciences. I was looking at a lot of programs and SPUR-LABS seemed like a good fit because it seemed new and fresh. I really liked the advisors. I looked them up, emailed them, and they seemed really enthusiastic about the program. I applied to a few summer programs but after I got into UCLA it was my choice. I am very interested in the research they are doing. I also can’t think of a better way to spend your summer than in Southern California. I wanted to be in an area that is academically enriching. I grew up in Las Vegas, which is definitely not a college town that encourages research in the medical field. The entirety of Southern California is more conducive to collaborative scientific research, especially UCLA. I feel like it’s the heart of it.
What type of research are you doing this summer?
A: This summer I’m studying muscular dystrophy. I did a collaboration with the lab I normally work in and I got some of the mice tissue I had been working with at my home institution. We got the treated and untreated tissue. I’m looking for the differences in the extracellular matrix components for our treated mice, to see if our drug compound will be an effective treatment for muscular dystrophy.
What has been your highlight of summer so far?
A: The highlight so far has been that I really love my lab. Everyone is super friendly and nice. Everyone loves what they’re doing. They love the research and it’s been a cool opportunity to meet not only the awesome people in my lab, but we’ve done a couple of collaborations and I have gotten to meet people from Australia and Europe. They gave seminars and were working in our lab. I got to talk to them and that was great. I’ve been helping another lab that does muscular related research with them too. It’s really cool to get all of these perspectives. Even though I’m only in one lab, I get a chance to see research from all over the world. It’s been really cool.
What are some of your favorite things about SPUR-LABS?
A: You have a ton of independence which is great to prep for grad school. Normally as an undergrad you don’t plan your own research; you’re kind of told what to do, so being here it’s a lot of independence.
One of the best parts is that we live on the same floor with a ton of other summer research programs. There are three floors just of SPUR (Summer Program for Undergraduate Research) people. There are tons of other people doing research like you and that’s pretty awesome. I wanted to do research at a medical school and one of the best things about UCLA is that the medical school is right on campus. It’s great.