Make The Connection

August 3, 2022 | By Cole Hatcher

Genetics and Gravity

Ohio Wesleyan Student Researches How Plants Grow in Changing Conditions

Josh Cabacungan ’24

Name: Josh Cabacungan ’24
Hometown: Medina, Ohio
Majors: Biology and Pre-Medicine
Minor: Chemistry
OWU Connection Experience: Summer Science Research Program

Cabacungan is completing plant research titled “Using Genetics to Determine the Components of Gravity Sensing in Arabidopsis thaliana,” a small, flowering weed in the mustard family. Cabacungan’s work is part of Ohio Wesleyan’s annual 10-week Summer Science Research Program (SSRP), and he is being mentored by Chris Wolverton, Ph.D., professor of Biological Sciences.

What I’m Researching

“By gaining an understanding of the pathways that allow plants to grow in variable gravity environments, we are able to comprehend how gravity influences plant growth and development, which can contribute to the future of astronomical and agricultural innovations.

“A list of 124 genes thought to impact gravity response in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana was compiled using variable gravity and gravity response experiments. In order to narrow this list to determine an additional pathway for gravity response, genetically edited plants that are confirmed to be missing one of the genes are used to determine a difference in growth rate and gravity response in the plants.”

My Favorite Moments

“I like to run gel electrophoresis. Wearing gloves and looking at products underneath a UV light makes me feel like I am in CSI.” (Electrophoresis is used in laboratories to separate molecules such as DNA and RNA by size and electrical charge.)

Lessons Learned

“This research is putting into practice many of the things that I learn in the classroom. I learned about everything we do here in class but I never got to actually use some of these techniques and strategies. I also get more experience with the process of performing research and how to adapt procedures to achieve better results.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I initially visited campus because of the soccer team; however, after visiting campus I definitely knew it was the place for me. I enjoy the small class sizes and the relationships I can build with professors that I would not be able to at larger schools. OWU allows student-athletes to compete at the highest level, while also being able to excel in the classroom.”

My Plans After Graduation

“After graduation, I plan on attending medical school. I have wanted to be a physician since I was young, and this is a career path I definitely want to pursue.

“Ohio Wesleyan University gives me the tools and connections to become a highly competitive applicant for medical school, and I have no doubt OWU was the best place for me.”