Jommel Macaraeg, a senior at Waipahu High, tackled a study on the effect of a particular protein called Dynamin 2 on various diseases. He undertook this project as a capstone achievement to earn STEM Honors. Jommel indicates the most challenging aspect of his work was learning about Learning Cell and Molecular Biology at the college/graduate level. His project placed at a state level competition in medical biotechnology and he was also a candidate for the Science Fair Presidential Award. Jommel describes his work in the following technical terms:
In my project, I looked at the disease-causing mechanism of Dynamin 2 mutants that cause Centronuclear Myopathy and Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease. I did this by studying how the mutants functioned in HEK 293 cells. I gathered TIRF (Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence) and Confocal Images of the HEK 293 cells to look at the Dynamin 2 mutants on the plasma membrane and in the cytosol. I had to use programs to quantify the cell images in order to determine the size and fluctuation of the mutants.
Jommel credits the following individuals for their guidance and assistance throughout his project:
• Dr. Nicholas G. James, PhD and assistant researcher at the UH Manoa, who helped Jommel develop and execute the project by teaching him the various laboratory skills and mechanisms foundational to Jommel’s research.
• Mr. Michael Sana, Waipahu capstone teacher for the medical biotechnology focus, who outlined the procedures and tools needed to completed this STEM initiative.
What Jommel took away from this experience:
It takes a lot of practice and skill to learn the mechanics behind every procedure done. This project ignited my new-found passion for scientific research. I learned that research takes time, but at the end, it’s worth it when you discover something unknown and amazing.
His plans after graduation? Jommel will be attending the University of Portland where he will major in biology and pre-medicine.