Sebastian Pedraza ’11 researches genes and gingivitis

This past summer I had an opportunity to do a full research internship as an incoming sophomore, which is very unusual. Most colleges only allow juniors and seniors to apply for those positions.

I received a Hughes Faculty-Student Research grant to work with Pam Baker, an associate professor of biology and biological chemistry. We spent eight weeks studying genes that contribute to alveolar bone loss and gingivitis. We compared gene expressions in infected and uninfected mice, and we came to the conclusion that some people with “good” genes can go without brushing their teeth and never get gingivitis, while others can brush all they want and still get it. It is a preventable disease, but some people are more susceptible to it.

It was a lot of work, but it was fun — and I got paid! I took full advantage of all the resources in Carnegie Science Hall, which has incredible laboratory equipment that many big universities don’t even have. At the end, my research partner, Lauren Okano ’11, and I presented our findings at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. Of all the college presentations given, ours used the most in-lab, original research.

I’m enjoying it here. I’m majoring in biochemistry and Chinese and minoring in economics. I feel fortunate to have financial aid, so I’m taking a broad range of classes — as many as I can! The teachers are available when you need them, and all the resources are right here on campus. Bates is a great school. It’s up to you to take advantage of it.

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