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McNair Feature Scholar: Meet Hailee!

My name is Hailee Sparks. I was born in Duluth, Minnesota and raised in Hudson, Wisconsin. Currently, I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire getting my Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  

Hailee Sparks, Cohort 21
Hailee Sparks, Cohort 21

While in the McNair Program, I’ve been conducting research with Dr. Jamie Lyman Gingerich on the effects that decreased gene expression of gar-3 has on the protein localization of polycistin-2 in the primary cilium of C. elgans, a free-living nematode. In order to address our question, we used both genetic and reverse genetic techniques to reduce gar-3 gene expression in C. elegans transgenic for PKD-2::GFP.  This allowed us to use fluorescent microscopy to assess PKD-2 localization in a living animal. We chose this area of study because dysregulated PKD-2 localization has been linked to polycystic kidney disease.  Thus, by understanding the factors that mediate PKD-2 protein localization to cilia might help us better understand the molecular basis of polycystic kidney disease. 

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, I wish to get my Master of Science in Genetic Counseling. Once I receive my master’s degree, I hope to become an effective genetic counselor at a major hospital or a genetics research facility.