Friday, July 19, 2013

SRAP Student Spotlight: Esmeralda and Liver Damage

SRAPer: Esmerelda Soto
From: Colorado
Year: Junior
Plans: Attend university and possibly major in communications


For most people, the differences between writing and math skills are distinct. Esmeralda Soto, however, enjoys both. Her interests in both subjects, especially writing, are coming in useful this summer during her participation in SRAP where she is not only conducting scientific research, but also writing a scientific research paper.
For her SRAP project, Esmeralda is learning about a field she’s never worked in – pharmaceutical research.
“We’re studying how cathepsin K can restore liver damage caused by aging,” says Esmeralda. “We’re trying to see if using this protein can restore that damage.”
Cathepsin K is an enzyme found in the lysosome of cells. The lysosome is responsible for the breakdown of waste material and cellular debris. It is believed that cathepsin K could help with the control and treatment of certain diseases, such as heart disease.
Esmerelda is working with Dr.Sreejayan Nair and graduate student Yinan Hua in the Pharmacy department at the University of Wyoming. She is enjoying her work, and is excited about the future impact of her research.
“I like seeing how it can help,” says Esmeralda. “Because a lot of the damage is alcohol related, if we find that cathepsin K can help restore the liver, then we can probably help a lot of people.”
Whether Esmeralda decides to pursue a degree in the STEM fields, or in communications, as she is currently thinking, she’s already ahead in the game with the skills she learned participating in the SRAP program.
SRAP is a six-week long intensive research program based at the University of Wyoming and sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR.

By Robin E. Rasmussen and Kali S. McCrackin
Photo by Robin E. Rasmussen

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