UC Merced Update
 
 
 

Graduate Student's Research Rocks Around the Body's Clock

 

Roger Tseng

Roger Tseng, now in his second year of the Quantitative and Systems Biology graduate program, studies the circadian rhythms of cyanobacteria, which are believed to be one of the Earth’s oldest organisms.
 

 

Roger Tseng was an undergraduate student studying molecular biology and biochemistry when he got his first opportunity to do research at UC Merced, working with Professor Benoit Dayrat researching the evolution of mollusks. Tseng found the hands-on lab experience unique and exciting.

“My research background helped me home in on what I wanted to study — protein,” Tseng said.

Now a graduate student in the Quantitative and Systems Biology (QSB) program, Tseng is part of a research team led by Professor Andy LiWang. The group is studying how three proteins interact to guide the circadian rhythms of cyanobacteria, which are believed to be one of the Earth’s oldest organisms.

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and respond to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Most living things — including animals, insects, plants and tiny microbes — have circadian rhythms; cyanobacteria possess a biological clock function that is similar to mammals.

“Studying the simpler organism first helps us understand the more complex mammals,” Tseng said. “Circadian timing in mammals involves many components and is complicated. If we can understand how just three proteins can form a clock, it would help us greatly in understanding a complex clock with more gears.”
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