Sergio Manuel Bernal-Garcia
Short Research Description
Previous Institution: City University of New York at Hunter College
Full Research Description
I graduated from City University of New York at Hunter College, where I received a B.A/M.A in Biology with a sub-specialization in Bio-technology. My interests in biological complexities really exploded towards the end of my undergraduate career, where I became exposed to the tools of microscopy. I became highly intrigued in trying to understand cellular and molecular interactions using microscopy as a means to elucidate an otherwise invisible universe.
I had the pleasure of conducting research both as an undergraduate and post-graduation in Dr. Paul Feinstein’s lab. During my time in the lab I was able to participate in a range of projects trying to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms of gene regulation and axonal sorting/targeting in the context of the olfactory system. My approach in trying to understand these complexities, in the olfactory system, was to use microscopy as a tool to probe the cellular environment in as much of its native state as possible. This meant implementing whole tissue antibody techniques, and whole tissue clearing techniques; allowing us to view cell morphology in its biological environment. Another project in the lab allowed me to use high resolution, live microscopy techniques to understand, in real time, the kinematics of how cell surface receptors respond and recruit cytosolic proteins in response to ligands.
I also had the pleasure of working with Dr. Phil Zeigler in trying to understand the role of neuronal patterning in the context of the whisking system in mammals. During my time in the lab I tried to couple the role of neuronal patterning and its implications in the sensing ability of whiskers in mice. Through the use of genetic tools, we disrupted stereotyped neuronal patterning and via the use of behavioral assays tried to understand the sensory consequences of these disruptions.
As I begin my PhD at Columbia University, I hope to expand my scientific knowledge and skills to further understand the complexities of the cellular universe. I would like to couple genetics, molecular biology, and microscopy to understand the biological consequences of evolutionary trial and error.