In keeping with our commitment to fostering critical thinking skills, BASIS.ed incorporates interdisciplinary coursework throughout our program. We believe that teaching students to make connections across disciplines, to ask questions and seek solutions and answers across traditional disciplinary boundaries, produces creative and independent thinkers and prepares our students for life and work in the 21st century.

1608_003_SeniorProjectSaturday_Martha_Kiela.jpgWhile all BASIS.ed coursework includes some level of instruction in interdisciplinary thinking, the Senior Project is perhaps the most salient example of these skills at work. 

Each year, the BASIS.ed community has the pleasure of celebrating the accomplishments of our entire network of students, participating each year in the presentations of their findings. The richness of the accomplishments of the students knows no limit; we'll share with you each week the abstracts and videos for you to get to know some of our students. Meet Martha Kiela from BASIS Tucson North and keep reading for her presentation abstract.


Martha Kiela, BASIS Tucson North

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Johnston
External Advisors: Dr. Andrzej Dziembowski and Vladyslawa Liudkovska
Location: Warsaw Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics: Warsaw, Poland



Recently, several new non-canonical poly(A) polymerases have been found, among these the FAM46 family. The FAM46C gene is mutated in about 10% of multiple myeloma patients, indicating its importance in multiple myeloma pathogenesis. In order to study these genes, Caenorhabditis elegans is used as a model. This species has a FAM46 homolog gene, PQN-44, that is hypothesized to have an effect on innate immunity. In previous experiments, C. elegans with a defective copy of PQN-44 had significant down-regulation of the nspc family transcripts, which code for a group of 20 proteins with potential antimicrobial activity. From these, nspc-14 and nspc-20 were isolated for functional studies.

To visualize where these proteins are localized, worms were injected with reporters of these nspc genes in fusion with mCherry. To further characterize the function of these genes, infections of wild-type and PQN-44 defective worm lines were performed with a variety of pathogens, in order to determine how the expression of nspc changed when worms were introduced to different bacteria. Additionally, to study the effect of nspc on C. elegans life span when infected with pathogenicbacteria, all nspc genes were silenced in a PQN-44 deficient, RNA interference sensitive strain. Because these genes are hypothesized to be involved in innate immunity, their silencing could lead to significantly shorter worms’ life span. Altogether, it will shed some light on the function of the nspc family in general and its connection with PQN-44.

For more, read Martha Kiela's blog documenting her experience during her Senior Project.

To read more about our experience at this year's Senior Project presentations, don't miss this post. Curious to learn more about Senior Projects and their importance? Come visit us at an upcoming event:


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