Justin Quan

Meet UCLA senior, Justin Quan, who is majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics (MIMG) with a minor in Biomedical Research. As a member of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, Justin recently attended the 12th annual Southern California Eukaryotic Pathogen Symposium (SCEP 2022) where he presented his work “Toxoplasma gondii encodes an array of novel TBC-domain containing proteins including an essential regulator of the secretory pathway”. Through his research with Dr. Peter Bradley’s lab, their studies provided “new insight into intracellular vesicle trafficking” and won the Best Talk Award for SCEP 2022! Justin also participated in the 2021-2022 cohort of the Beckman Scholars Program which is an invite-only program that supports outstanding UCLA undergraduate researchers who are majoring in Chemistry, Biochemistry, MIMG and MCDB. Our team had an opportunity to speak with Justin about his research experience at UCLA:


1. How did you first get involved in your research project?

I started working in Dr. Bradley’s lab during the summer before my freshman year. For about a year, I was working on entry level CRISPR-mediated epitope tagging of novel genes. While I was not directly given my current project, my transition towards studying secretory organelles in Toxoplasma gondii felt very fluid. Overtime, my project gradually grew, and I focused on studying the mechanism of intracellular vesicular trafficking.


2. How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

Research has been my greatest learning tool at UCLA. This ongoing experience allows me to constantly apply concepts learned in class to practical real-world applications on the bench. Having an independent research project has also trained me to problem-solve failures and come up with novel techniques. The best part of research was meeting my new friends, graduate students and undergraduates alike. Bonding over failed westerns or late-night grinds in the tissue culture are hallmarks of doing life science research.


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

If and when you start conducting research, try to dig deeper into your project and the science. Research is all about what you put into it. The more you put in, the better of an experience you will have and the more you will learn from it. Going for a mechanistic understanding really helps to grow your research project.


4. What are your future career goals?

With my major in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics and minor in Biomedical Research, I plan to pursue a M.D./PhD. degree with the hopes of someday running a translational research lab within a large academic institution.


Way to go, Justin! We’re excited to see what’s in store for you in the future.