UAF BLaST November scientist of the month: Scholar Brianna Lu

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By Amy Topkok

Brianna Lu is a fourth-year BLaST scholar and a senior at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. She is pursuing a bachelor’s of science degree in biological sciences with a concentration in physiology. Lu has interests in community and environmental health, and she would also like to volunteer to educate others about One Health. She plans to continue engaging with the research community after she graduates in May 2021. She was born and raised in Fairbanks and hopes to work there as a physician assistant someday. Some of her favorite hobbies include snowboarding, aerial silks, and running with her dogs.

Brianna Lu

During her undergraduate career, Lu has worked closely with Malabika Maulik, Ph.D., a former BLaST Graduate Research Mentoring Assistant, as her primary research mentor, and Abel Bult-Ito, Ph.D., a former BLaST Faculty Pilot Project awardee as her Principal Investigator and faculty mentor. Lu would also like to thank her BLaST Research Advising and Mentoring Professional, Natalia Podlutskaya, for her continued support and guidance with both research and non-research related aspects of her career. 

Lu’s current research focuses on the effects of Alaskan botanicals on neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Parkinson’s. She spent the past three years on her research project under Bult-Ito’s guidance regarding the effects of subsistence diet and neurodegeneration in C. elegans and mice. She has been able to present at the Experimental Biology Conference, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, the One Health, One Future Conference, as well as various local conferences at UAF. She was honored with co-authorship of two manuscript publications and is currently working on publishing her own manuscript as a first author. 

“My research experience has helped me learn numerous techniques that are both unique to undergraduates and applicable in my field. Having such an extensive hands-on research background sets me apart from many pre-PAs by showing my dedication and consistency in following projects through to multiple publications in respected journals, such as Elsevier Journal of Functional Foods and Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience while learning and applying techniques,” Lu said.

She hopes to take a year off after graduating to gain clinical experience and then apply to the University of Washington’s MEDEX Physician Assistant program.

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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