I am Kit Ma from Hong Kong. I received my B.S. in chemistry and biology from Northern Arizona University in 2010. I decided to pursue my Ph.D. degree in biochemistry because I would someday like to work in academia and run my own laboratory, choosing research endeavors of my own interests. What attracted me to the Department of Biochemistry at Purdue University was the size of the department compared to other larger departments. I enjoy the fact that I can get to know and interact with everyone in the department. Whenever I have free time, I like playing soccer and hang out with friends.
I entered the Department of Biochemistry’s Ph.D. program in fall 2010. After rotating through four labs my first year, I joined the Tran lab where my research involves the biochemical mechanism of a class of RNA helicases called DEAD-box proteins. DEAD-box proteins are RNA-dependent ATPases which are thought to function in a diverse array of biological processes such as ribosome biogenesis, transcription, splicing and RNA decay. However, the precise biochemical function of the vast majority of the ~40 members in humans (~25 in budding yeast) has not been determined.
My goal is to characterize the biochemical function of S. cerevisiae Dbp2, a largely uncharacterized member of the DEAD-box enzyme family.. My project will involve in vitro biochemical assays for Dbp2 function as well as isolation/identification of RNAs and proteins bound by Dbp2 in vivo. I will also use a combination of genetic and cell biology approaches to define the role of Dbp2 in the cell. Given the importance of RNA and RNA:protein interactions in biology, this is an exciting project that will have a broad impact on our understanding of RNA biology and RNA-dependent enzymes.