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How Cells Ensure Accurate Chromosome Segregation and Avoid Aneuploidy (Maresca Lab) - FULL

Our competitive Research Intensives program places high-achieving high school students in professional working labs alongside distinguished faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.

Research Intensive in the How Cells Ensure Accurate Chromosome Segregation and Avoid Aneuploidy Lab (Maresca Lab)

Cell division is a physical process when the genome - distributed across the replicated chromosomes - is equally separated prior to cleavage into two daughter cells. Given its central importance to life, integrated physical and biochemical fail-safe mechanisms have evolved to make cell division a high-fidelity process. However, natural selection does not yield perfection and failures in cell division result in aneuploidy, which causes a majority of miscarriages in the first trimester, birth defects, and has been implicated in tumorigenesis and cancer metastasis.

Our long-term goal is to characterize fundamental and conserved mechano-molecular mechanisms of cell division by studying the principal phenomena of the process: entry into and exit from cell division, spindle assembly, chromosome movement, and cytokinesis (physical splitting of the cytoplasm). A more comprehensive understanding of how the complex biological processes of cell division are orchestrated by mechanical and biochemical pathways will be foundational to diagnosing and treating diseases stemming from improper cell division.

In investigating cell division in the Maresca lab you will learn the following skills and methodologies

  1. Sterile technique to maintain human and/or fruit fly tissue culture cell lines
  2. Fluorescence microscopy: Live and fixed (aka dead) cell imaging
  3. DNA transformation into competent E. coli cells (sterile technique for bacterial cultures)
  4. Mini-preparations of plasmid DNA from bacteria and measuring DNA concentrations
  5. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
    a. Primer design and genetic engineering through primers
  6. Agarose gel electrophoresis
  7. Immunofluorescence
  8. Gibson assembly – advanced DNA “cloning” method
  9. DNA transfections into HeLa cells

The Maresca Lab can host up to 3 students. Learn more.


Program Overview

During this program, high school students will assist UMass faculty and graduate students in research labs while learning about research methodologies and contributing to ongoing research studies. Each student will create and present a research poster to faculty, fellow students, friends and family at a poster session at the end of the program.

Students will come away with an introduction to the field of Biology, firsthand experience with university-level research, and an understanding of opportunities that exist for undergraduate students at a major R1 university such as UMass Amherst.



For all Research Intensives applications: In your statement of interest, please include 3 lab choices from our list of available labs along with a brief explanation of your interest in each one.

This course is offered at the UMass Amherst campus as a residential program. Local students may apply to attend as a commuter.