Helen Gomez



I grew up in El Paso, Texas and started attending New Mexico State University in 2017 for a bachelor’s degree in genetics and biotechnology. I am currently a junior with goals of attending graduate school for a PhD in genome sciences. In my spare time I enjoy painting and trying new cooking recipes. My research is focused on identifying how the protein RecN is being regulated in E.coli under DNA damaging conditions.



Project Description:

Our primary goal is to understand the biochemistry of RecN protein in Escherichia coli, as it plays a role in recombinational DNA repair. DNA is subjective to damaging reagents that if not repaired by mechanisms within the cell, they could be detrimental to the cell itself. One of the most dangerous damages are double strand breaks in DNA which our lab focuses on. By studying RecN in wild-type and variant proteins we are able to determine the differences to see how RecN is being controlled. In vivo studies have shown E.coli RecN mutants, where the cells undergo ionizing radiation treatment,  grew resistant to higher levels of radiation. A point mutation in RecN is causing this protein to become hyperactivated, and as a result allow E.coli cells to survive extreme levels of ionizing radiation. A successful understanding of these findings can be applied to further studies in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Project Benchmarks:
  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Present scholarly work at URCAS
  • Present scholarly work at conference, exhibition, recital, film festival, reading, etc.
  • Take the GRE
  • Author or co-author a manuscript submitted for publication
  • Apply for graduate or professional school