Mariano A. Loza-Coll, PhD
My specialties are coming to lab unannounced, crack a few silly jokes and constantly change my mind about what experiment should be done next. I’m also pretty good at forgetting everyone’s birthday and feeling very, very sorry for it… But above all, I try my hardest to create a working environment where students feel less like students and more like independent thinkers, whose ideas are respected, valued and, whenever possible, implemented!
Armen is working on identifying factors that are critical for the maintenance and regulation of intestinal stem cells, by using a combination of bioinformatics and experimental genetics. He’s focusing on a series of genes that are regulated by one or more of three known master regulator pathways in intestinal progenitors (Stat, EGFR and Esg), trying to determine which of them may be downstream effector genes linking the activity of master regulators to the maintenance, proliferative capacity and differentiation potential of intestinal progenitors.
Michelle and Michael pioneered our study of how flies may inherit an enhanced capacity to develop tolerance to ethanol if their parents had been repeatedly exposed to this drug. Through a series of ethanol exposures regimes and behavioral tests, Michelle is now trying to further characterize the cellular basis of this interesting observation. Michelle is also working with Maria to analyze the effect of repeated ethanol intoxications on the health of stem cells in flies.
Undergraduate Student (Build PODER)
Maria is using microscopy to study how repeated ethanol exposures may affect the health of intestinal stem cells. She has become the CellProfiler guru in our lab, which allows her to automatically analyze hundreds of microscopy images and determine if intestinal progenitors change in size or shape following ethanol stress. Her datasets are so large, that she often visits the dark side of Excel.
Undergraduate Student (Build PODER)
Christian started out working with Thelmari and Sahar to look at the effect of reproductive isolation on the biology of intestinal stem cells. But then, he shared with Calvin his profound interest in 3D printing, and his project made a U-turn: now he’s using 3D-printing to create experimental devices to improve our microscopy analysis. That is, of course, in addition to all the cool hacks and gadgets he prints!
Sahar is trying to further characterize how mating affects the biology of intestinal stem cells. Previous work by others has shown that following mating, the female gut undergoes drastic changes in morphology and metabolism, and Sahar is using microscopy and a series of cell identity and pathway activity reporters to try and further understand this phenomenon.
Armen and John Paul teamed up to continue work that Johnny and Valeriya had started a while ago, looking at how thermal shocks affect the biology of adult stem cells in flies.
Like Maria, Armen has mastered the art of processing lots of images for CellProfiler analysis, and he’s slowly but surely venturing into the dark side of Excel. Two jedis, 9 more to go!
John Paul Angeles
John Paul is working with Armen K. on some of the more complex experimental designs we currently have in the lab, combining external stressors with transgenic expression in flies. He graduated in Fall 2017, but will stick around the lab for a while longer, as he prepares his applications to medical school.
Thelmari pioneered our efforts to look at the link between reproduction and intestinal homeostasis. She had become very interested in work done at the Miguel-Aliaga and Partdrige labs, and decided to look a little deeper into how virginity and mating affect the biology of intestinal stem cells.
Santos joined the lab and revived an old project that Armen H and Aris had worked on at the dawn of the Loza-Coll lab. He’s working with Paniz, using microsocopy and less-than-straightforward genetic manipulations of intestinal progenitors to try and understand how animal aging can affect the robustness of these cells.
Paniz teamed up with Santos to figure out how aging affects very specific aspects of the biology of intestinal stem cells. A lot of work has been done and is being done in that area, but Paniz and Santos hope to contribute their 4 cents to this very rapidly moving and hot topic in our field.
Brian is working along with Michelle and Maria on the experiments related to ethanol intoxications in flies, doing everything from exposing flies to ethanol, to conducting the behavioral analyses, dissecting and staining guts, and scoring the video recordings that we use to estimate how long it takes for flies to become intoxicated by ethanol.
Aris was one of the brave souls that decided to join the group when the lab was nothing but empty benches and a whole lot of boxes. He and Armen fondly reminisce of the days when they made fly food one beaker at a time! On the science front, Aris worked on looking at the effect that aging has on the stem cell niche of the testis. Luckily for all of us, he still visits every now and then!
Michael was absolutely instrumental in starting all ethanol-related work in our lab. He is the poster-child of student-driven projects, for he initially conceived, planned and set up the protocols that we use in the lab to investigate how ethanol intoxications affect various aspects of fly biology. He moved to Florida after graduation, and all of us deeply hope that he’ll visit sometime soon.
Johnny joined our lab as a Build PODER student from East LA College. Along with Valeriya, Johnny spent a very busy summer figuring out the general biological effects of thermal shocks. He then took it a step further, and pioneered our study on how thermal shocks affect the regulation of intestinal progenitors. He became a very proficient dissecter-imager-microscopist before he transferred to UCLA.
Calvin also joined our lab as a Build PODER student from CSUN. At first, Calvin teamed up with Armen H. to work on a couple of bioinformatics programs for mapping networks based on genetic and protein interaction data. But then his project took a sharp turn, when he decided to merge his passion for 3D printing and the research in the lab. Calvin spearheaded our efforts to incorporate 3D printing into our research, designed the first prototypes for 3D-printed devices we use in our research, and trained our other 3D printing aficionado in the lab, Christian.
Valeriya spent only one summer in our lab, but her hard work and dedication could have easily fill out a few semesters. Working with Johnny, she took on the rather monumental task of characterizing the effect of repeated thermal shocks on various aspects of fly biology (viability, fertility and motility). It was a mammoth project, and she was absolutely fearless in taking on it. She’s now focusing on class work and trying to decide what she will do next for her career. We all hope that she continues in a research-related path – it would be a benefit to us all.