OUR Featured Researcher: Aaron Morales Dolich '22

Portrait of Aaron Morales
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen Jones

Aaron Morales Dolich (he/him) is a second year doing research under the mentorship of Michael Darcy in the Department of Physics at the Ohio State University. His project is titled "Changing Local Concentration of Binding Sites Affects Effective Affinity of Transcription Factor Binding to DNA Origami". 

Please describe your project:

We are unaware of the mechanisms of how a transcription factor binds to a
nucleosome. The density of the cytoplasm makes in vivo measurements difficult. We
circumvent this limitation by assembling a DNA origami nanodevice. We then measure
how transcription factors bind to DNA on a distance and local concentration-controlled
environment.

What does the process of doing your research look like?

Doing research is split mainly into two parts: prep days and experiment days. During general prep days, I would assemble the DNA devices I would use and purify them to make sure a certain concentration will be used in each experiment. On experiment days, I would carry out the titration of increasing protein concentration in solution and running it in the fluorometer.

How did you get involved in research? What drove you to want to seek out research
experiences in college?

I got involved with research by seeking out internship programs by Google. I wanted to seek out research in college to gain experience and see if what I did would advance my interest in the specific topic.

What is your favorite thing about your project?

My favorite part of the project was experiment days and the end where we analyzed data and drew conclusions. Experiment days always had a certain rhythm to it where I would reserve a big chunk of time on the fluorometer and spend time on it, and it became second nature to me. The end was also nice because once everything was done, we got to think about what I was doing means and connect to other topics in biochemistry.

How has working with your mentor impacted the development of your research project?
How has it impacted you as a researcher?

My mentor showed me basic techniques as to what I will do in research and gave me an outline of what I can investigate. This has impacted me as a researcher by giving me a feeling of independence in the project I was carrying out. My mentor would work with me, checking over what I did and became more independent as time went on.

How has the research you’ve conducted contributed to your professional or academic development?

It gave me a new way to look at DNA. More importantly, I got exposure to tools and techniques I may see later on in science, such as Kds, gel running, and fluormeter workings.

What advice would you give to a younger student wanting to get involved in research in your field?

Know what you are researching. It helps to read papers or review articles about the subject you are interested in, knowing it is what you want to do. On top of that, find a lab whose culture is supportive and will get you the most out of your program.

Read about more of OUR featured researchers