Ciairra is from Southern California and is a rising fourth-year at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), pursuing a B.S. in biochemistry. She has been conducting research in a plant molecular biology laboratory under Dr. Judy Brusslan since June 2016. It is a genetic and epigenetic lab focusing on the regulation of leaf senescence in Arabidopsis thaliana. The purpose of the lab is to understand this complex aging mechanism in order to yield agricultural benefits such as maximizing crop yield and efficiency. Her project focuses on receptor-like proteins (RLPs) and how they play a role in regulating leaf senescence. Some methods to study this include genotypic and phenotypic analyses such as DNA/RNA isolation, chlorophyll degradation, and quantitative Real-Time PCR to measure gene expression levels.
This summer she is working in Dr. Michael Summers’ structural biology lab studying HIV-1 and how the group-specific antigen, or gag, polyprotein can selectively package the dimeric viral RNA genome. In Ciairra’s free time she enjoys reading, writing short stories, watching Netflix, and playing games. In the future, she is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in biochemistry after graduating in Fall 2019.