Celine Cano-Ruiz

Celine is a senior majoring Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and currently works with UCLA’s Dr. Lily Wu, whose research focuses on developing gene therapy protocol to treat cancer patients.

Celine was named a co-author on two recently published papers titled “Mouse- and patient-derived CAM xenografts for studying metastatic renal cell carcinoma” and “Comparing Metastatic Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma Model Established in Mouse Kidney and on Chicken Chorioallantoic Membrane.”

As an undergraduate, Celine has been involved in many of the URC’s programs and is currently in the CARE Scholars Program.

How did you first get involved in your research project?

I first got involved in research by participating in UCLA’s Biomedical Sciences Enrichment Program (BISEP) the summer of my freshman year, which I heard about through the PEERS program. It was in this program that I learned basic lab techniques and I realized my passion for research. After the program ended, I began looking for research mentors on my major’s faculty website. From there, I read about their research and I started emailing PI’s whose research pursuits interested me about my interest in participating in their research project. I did a few interviews with PI’s and I got a feel for the environment in the lab and the responsibilities lab’s gave to undergraduate researchers. I was very lucky to find my PI (Dr. Lily Wu) and my graduate student mentor (Moe Ishihara). I have been conducting research in Dr. Wu’s lab for two years now, working on establishing a new animal model – the chicken – in order to study a specific type of kidney cancer.


How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

It is definitely one of the best experiences I have had at UCLA. It was intimidating at first because I saw so many people doing so many amazing things such as writing full papers and presenting their research and all of that seemed a little out of my reach. And what I most love about my research experience at UCLA is the amount of support that I have received from the URC as well as from my lab and I have just grown tremendously from this experience both as a scientist and as a person. On top of this, I have met so many great people who are now my mentors and friends in the undergraduate research community at UCLA.


What is one piece of advice you have for other students thinking about getting involved in research?

I would say to not get discouraged when first trying to find a lab to get involved in research. It took me two full quarters of writing emails to PI’s about my interest in research that I finally found a lab with a workplace culture that I could see myself thriving in.  Within that time, only a few emailed me back (they are busy people!). You just have to keep trying!


What are your future career goals?

Even though I have been involved in research for the majority of my undergraduate career, I have decided to go to medical school after taking a gap year. In medical school, I am still planning on getting involved in research. In the future, I want to be a physician and I think all my years of research have really helped me understand how research informs medical practice.