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Senior Ayano Fox Takes the Lead in Major Research Project

Loyola Marymount University senior Ayano Fox said she hopes that the hands-on, practical experience she received during her undergraduate education will help set her apart when she applies for graduate school.

“My friends from other universities are always impressed when I tell them the kind of research I’m actually involved in,” Fox said. “Most of this type of research is typically not done at the undergraduate level.”

This past summer, Fox was awarded a Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering undergraduate summer research grant. The focus of her research was to examine how toxic proteins disrupt pancreatic cells and their ability to produce insulin. She teamed up with one other LMU undergraduates, a 2010 graduate in biochemistry and a visiting undergraduate from a French university.

“My education at LMU really puts me ahead in terms of applying for grad school,” said Fox, a biochemistry major. “Both my research and lab classes teach very practical skills and techniques that parallel real-world situations. My knowledge and practice with different instruments and techniques will be very useful in my future plans.”

The team presented their findings in a major paper that was published in an issue of the journal Biochemistry. Fox served as the paper’s lead author. David A. Moffet, assistant professor of biochemistry at LMU, and Luiza A. Nogaj, assistant professor of biology at Mount St. Mary’s College of Los Angeles, led and mentored the team, but the students conducted a majority of the research.

This semester, Fox is working a project that follows up on her summer research. She is now trying to find smaller peptides similar to the original protein that inhibited the formation of the toxic structures. After graduation she plans to study forensic science in graduate school and hopes to work for a government agency such as the FBI or the CIA.

“A lot of discussions in my classes relate current events to the topics being taught. This emphasizes the fact that we are learning about things which are relevant to the real world. Everything we are taught is meant to prepare us for life after college,” Fox said.