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Lyon student researches sea life over summer

A Lyon student is taking an in-depth look under the sea this summer.

Hannah Zang, ‘21, is conducting research with the IDeA Network for Biomedical Excellence (INBRE) at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She said she is studying the function of a novel neuropeptide in sea anemones. Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules used by neurons to communicate with each other.

“I actually did research for 10 weeks after my freshman year with Dr. Alexander Beeser at Lyon,” she said, “and our research was funded by INBRE. I decided to apply to the INBRE program this past spring and was accepted into a lab at UA.”

Through her research, Zang has been doing CRISPR injections, immunostaining, and polymerase chain reactions to edit genomes, detect specific proteins, and make copies of specific DNA segments.

“My favorite part is definitely learning new lab techniques,” she said. “Even with unexpected results, it’s like a puzzle trying to figure out where things went wrong.”

As a double major in biology and psychology, Zang credited her Lyon courses for preparing her for the rigors of research.

“I had some typical biology classes, like Principles of Biology II and Evolution, that really helped prepare me,” she said. “I was also surprised that one of my psychology classes, Sensation and Perception, helped me, too! It’s always great when things overlap with my different majors.”

Zang recommended current students visit the career center and their professors when applying for research projects.

“It can be a bit confusing to navigate writing personal statements and filling out applications for the first time,” she said.

“I hope in the fall I can tell students about my research in the Summer Experience Fair. I think every student should do research, even if they’re uncertain of their future career plans. Learning to think like a scientist is an invaluable skill that is necessary for all different types of jobs.”

Zang hopes to continue working on research projects in the future.

“Besides the numerous professional skills this experience has given me, it has also pushed me to try to incorporate research into my future career plans. I’m currently on the pre-med route, but I want to continue doing research after medical school.”