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Serena Debari

Serena Debari
Project Title: 
Investigating Catalytic Residues in Class I active site of a Fungal Diterpene Synthase
Program Year: 
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Sibongile Mafu

This summer, I started working on a project that was formerly worked on by other undergraduate students in past semesters.This project was a continuation of a study that focussed on defining the biochemical determinants of diterpene synthases. This project went in depth into a class of terpenes called diterpenes that are commonly known for their antifungal and antimicrobial characteristics in plants. My mentor, Sibongile Mafu, and I were interested in investigating the catalytic residues important for class I cyclization step of diterpene synthases, or the enzymes responsible for diterpene synthesis. Our laboratory continues to drive towards discovering further structural and functional significance of the enzymes and products related to this synthesis pathway. Overall, this program taught me so much about independence and problem solving in the laboratory that will prove helpful to my future career.



I hope this email finds you well and that you had a pleasant start to your semester. I am writing to ask if you would like to participate as my mentor/reader. I am working on a thesis as a part of my research in the biochemistry department under Sibongile Mafu. I am using this thesis to fulfill my advanced laboratory credit. In addition, I am required to present a poster presentation and final defense of my thesis at the end of this semester. As my reader, I believe you would be required to discuss and review my writing at a couple points before the end of the semester. I would greatly appreciate it if you would be inclined to work with me on this project since I believe you are the best person to assist my writing and future directions. I look forward to hearing from you and potentially working with you in the future. However, as I am not completely aware of the requirements asked of my reader, I understand that you may not want to commit to something unknown. I am in contact with Amy Springer and can report back if you have any questions. I appreciate your consideration and wish you the best of luck this semester.