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Ashley Santana

Majors: Biotechnology and biomedical sciences

Ashley is one of 16 undergraduates at UCF to receive the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2021.  

Webpage: https://www.ucf.edu/news/16-knights-earn-nsf-graduate-research-fellowships-most-in-ucf-history/

University Involvement: McNair Scholar, member of the Student Undergraduate Research Council, transfer student peer mentor for the Office of Undergraduate Research, former vice president for the Eureka Research Society, and a former undergraduate researcher in the Soft Functional Materials and Sensors Lab.

Currently: Pursuing a double major in biotechnology and biomedical sciences at UCF

Research: BAF chromatin remodeling complexes are what are known as epigenetic regulators, meaning they play significant roles in activating or suppressing certain cellular functions. Their failure to operate properly is linked to human disease, most commonly cancer. When it comes to all types of cancer, BAF chromatin remodeling complexes play a significant role in the suppression of tumors with roughly 20% of all cancer deaths showing defects, making them among the most common when it comes to malignant diagnoses. Santana’s research is comparing the protein composition found in these complexes both in cancerous and healthy tissues. “Understanding the unique protein compositions of cancerous chromatin remodeling complexes can advance the creation of cancer therapeutics with specificity in inhibiting tumor growth,” she says.

Up Next: After graduating, Santana plans to pursue a graduate degree in biomedical sciences with the ultimate goal of becoming a biotechnologist and contributing to the development of therapeutics for human disease.