Jasmine Esparza

Meet recent UCLA graduate, Jasmine Esparza, who majored in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and minored in Biomedical Research. She is now studying for her PhD at UC Davis. Jasmine was just awarded an NIH T32 Molecular and Cellular Biology Training Grant. She also recently published her undergraduate research, “Defining a role for GPCR/cAMP/Creb signaling in HFSC activation,” in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 

During her time at UCLA, Jasmine was a part of Dr. William Lowry’s lab in the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. As an undergraduate, Jasmine was also awarded the Beckman Research Scholarship, a prestigious award presented to outstanding UCLA undergraduate researchers who are majoring in Chemistry, Biochemistry, MIMG, or MCDB, and who are committed to completing an honors or departmental thesis project with a UCLA Beckman Faculty.


How did you first get involved in your research at UCLA?

In high school, I participated in the UCLA Biosciences Research Internship where I worked directly with a graduate student, learned the wet lab basics, and presented my findings to UCLA faculty and students. I absolutely enjoyed this program and I knew I wanted to continue doing research in undergrad. Entering UCLA, I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in a program called Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences (PEERS). I didn’t know it at the time, but this program truly jump-started my career in research. With the help of networking opportunities with PEERS, I found a wonderful lab that I thrived in. My graduate student mentor, Matilde Miranda, was a role model and constantly supported me. When I decided I wanted to go to graduate school, my PI, Dr. William Lowry, and Matilde ensured I was taking the right steps to be a competitive applicant, such as getting funding opportunities and presenting my research at various conferences.

How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

I had a truly wonderful research experience at UCLA. I attribute my positive experience with my lab, the Lowry lab. The moment I realized I want to invest my future into research, I made sure to surround myself with a supportive community and take every possible opportunity I could to better myself as a scientist. I changed my major from Biology to Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) since I knew these classes utilize primary literature to supplement and expand on class concepts. I minored in Biomedical Research, where I learned to communicate my science in oral and poster presentation formats. I participated in research enrichment programs such as CARE Scholars, CARE Fellows, and the MSD fellows program offered by the URC. I also was selected as UCLA Arnold and Mabel Beckman Scholar, which I considered my biggest accomplishment as an undergraduate scientist since my research was recognized at the national level. Overall, research kept opening doors for me so I kept going through them. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that I had that made my research experience at UCLA a positive one that I will never forget.

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

If you are thinking of getting involved in research, one piece of advice that I would give is don’t feel like you have to know everything about a lab’s field of research when you are reaching out or just starting. Professors and graduate students will not expect you to be experts in the field. A supportive lab will guide you to gradually learn all the necessary concepts to fully grasp the project.

What is your current research about for your PhD at UC Davis?

I am currently studying how metabolism and epigenetics play a role in gametogenesis, the development of sperm and egg. My project is specifically focusing on how carbohydrate metabolism is regulated to ensure that sufficient metabolites or substrates, such as acetyl-CoA, are produced for chromatin-modifying enzymes to ensure successful sperm and egg development.

What are your future career goals?

I am currently in the process of trying to decide if I want to pursue industry or academia. No matter what path I take, I know I want to mentor undergraduate students in research. Without mentorship and a supportive community, I would not be where I am today. I want to help the next generation of scientists, especially underrepresented minority students. I am excited to see what the future holds.