Jaclyn Rivas



Jaclyn Alexis Rivas was born and raised in El Paso, TX. She is currently pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Molecular Biology at New Mexico State University. Jaclyn began working in the Lusetti Lab in the Spring of 2019 and discovered the endless possibilities research could offer to her future. After graduation, she plans to attain her master’s degree and hopes to pursue a career in neurodegenerative disease research. In her spare time, Jaclyn enjoys cooking, painting, and spending time with her family and dogs.



Project Description:

Gastric cancer develops at the stomach lining and can potentially spread to other body organs. At least 60% of gastric adenocarcinoma cases are attributed to infections by Helicobacter pylori (Hp) bacterium. Consequently, Hp was listed as a human oncogenic agent by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Despite medical progress, poor prognosis continues to elevate gastric cancer cases worldwide. Efforts to reduce gastric cancer cases utilize antibiotics non-specific for Hp. This effort has become problematic because Hp continues to acquire antibiotic resistance at alarming rates worldwide. Therefore, novel drugs that can effectively target Hp are critically needed. We propose targeting Hp’s DNA double-strand break (DSBs) repair mechanisms will be an effective strategy to decrease the onset of infection. Although RecN protein has been linked to play a major role in RecA-dependent DNA repair of DSBs via Homologous Recombination (HR), the exact mechanism continues to be unclear for Hp. With the grant money provided by the discovery scholars program, we will have the funds to begin taking a biochemical and genetic approach that will lead us to identify protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions that are poorly understood for these proteins during Homologous Recombination, a DNA repair pathway.



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
  • Attend a professional conference (without presenting)
  • Present scholarly work at conference, exhibition, recital, film festival, reading, etc.
  • Attend workshop on applying for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program
  • Apply for graduate or professional school




Jaclyn’s Mentor: Dr. Lee Uranga:

Lee is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at New Mexico State University. He received his Bachelors degree in Biochemistry from NMSU in 2005. He also received his Doctorate degree in Chemistry from NMSU in 2012. His professional background is in DNA repair biochemistry and enzymology.  Lee teaches general Chemistry 111 and Experimental Biochemistry 397. Lee’s passion is to mentor graduate and undergrattudeate students from all backgrounds to learn and conduct science at the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Lee is currently assembling the Lab Rat Army to help him decode nature one experiment at a time.