Name: Alena Sergaeva
Field of study: Electrophysiology
Host institution: Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
Mentor(s): Dr. Richard Chappell
Research efforts are concentrated on investigating the role of zinc in the outer plexiform layer of skate retina. The outer plexiform layer is the region where photoreceptors synapse with the dendrites of bipolar and horizontal cells. It has been shown previously that together with glutamate, photoreceptors of many vertebrates, including skate, co-release ionic form of zinc (Zn2+). It is unclear what function the co-release of zinc serves. However, increasing evidence shows that it functions to modulate the amount of glutamate released at the synapse. The model of feedback mechanism is proposed for the action of zinc. To confirm the model and to further investigate the role of zinc in the outer plexiform layer of zinc retina, we chelated (removed) Zn2+ with L-histidine and looked at the intracellular response of horizontal cells. In addition, we looked at the change in the ERG (electroretinogram) in response to a modulated spot and steady surround illumination.
My experience in MBL has been very pleasant and exceptionally educational. While there, I was totally immersed in the world of science and research. I met scientists from all over the world: Germany, Japan, Russia, Italy, Canada, Turkey, etc. Everyone in Woods Hole is very friendly and helpful. You can come to the lab across the hall and ask for supplies or chemicals if you suddenly ran out. If you know that someone works with the same animal as you, you can always ask for advice on how to handle this animal best. Every summer MBL has at least one lecturer who is a Nobel Laureate. I enjoyed working with
Dr. Chappell and I learned a lot about Electrophysiology from him.