Andy Liao

Meet UCLA senior, Andy Liao, who is majoring in Biology. Andy recently published his research titled, “BK Channels Regulate LPS-induced CCL-2 Release from Human Pulmonary Endothelial Cells” on American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.

Andy currently works in Dr. Schwingshackl’s lab in the Department of Pediatrics at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He is also currently a scholar in our Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.

How did you first get involved in your research project?

I joined Dr. Schwingshackl’s laboratory during Winter of 2019 with a limited background in basic laboratory skills and a strong resolve to gain exposure to the academia research field. Under the tutelage of my Principal Investigator, Dr. Schwingshackl, and his Assistant Research Scientist, Dr. Tatiana Zyrianova, I refined my data analysis and laboratory skills, particularly with running Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISAs). My research productivity culminated in a co-authorship on an original research paper titled “BK Channels Regulate LPS-induced CCL-2 Release from Human Pulmonary Endothelial Cells.” Since my involvement in this research project, I’ve developed an interest in the distribution and pathology of acute respiratory distress syndrome in pediatric and geriatric populations, and a passion for contributing to the medical field by studying science at the microlevel.


How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

My research experience at UCLA is best characterized as a constant upward trajectory of learning and growth in both the professional and personal sense. I started my research journey mostly maintaining cell culture by feeding, splitting, and seeding cells. However, during this past year I’ve acquired several important laboratory skills including gene and protein expression assays, immunofluorescence microscopy, and fluorescence-based methods of ion current detection. From this experience, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the inner-workings of academia research and learned the importance of organization, attention to detail, and fluid teamwork – virtues that will ground me as I pursue a path in medicine.


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

I would suggest that students approach getting involved in research with a growth mindset. Apply to academia or clinical research positions and determine if the work environment fosters your individual learning. In addition, I’d advise to proactively make an effort in understanding the larger purpose of your laboratory responsibilities and experiments. View your day-to-day in the laboratory through the lens of what you can learn to maximize what you can gain from your research experience.


What are your future career goals?

I am on the pre-medical track, aspiring to be a pediatric physician. Currently, I am searching for job opportunities for my gap year and preparing to apply to medical schools this upcoming cycle. Getting my medical degree is my top priority, but in the future, I plan on expanding my areas of expertise to encompass various different disciplines. My goal is to also branch off into clinical research, to witness firsthand how the skills I’ve learned in academia research translate to the clinical setting. Additionally, I plan to get a master of business administration in healthcare and learn more about Eastern Medicine, so as to incorporate a more holistic approach in my practice. Lastly, after accomplishing all of these aforementioned career goals, I plan to focus on teaching during the later years of my life.