Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good

All Majors & Minors

Brennan McFarland

I think being involved in research throughout my undergraduate career has helped me really decide that I want to pursue this professionally. Although I am not positive what area I want to delve into further, I have had a great experience with working in a neurobiology lab on Parkinson’s disease. My mentee and I developed a new strain that modeled this neurodegenerative disease, and this fall I am looking for ways to reduce the severity of these existing symptoms. Having a mentee really was an awesome experience; it helped me really understand as well the logic behind our project. 

Major

Neuroscience and Psychology

Minor

Biology

Activities

Senior Admission Fellow, Campus Safety Dispatch Associate, Phi Kappa Sigma Recruitment chair

Research

Within C. elegans, the strain WLZ1 models Parkinson’s disease due to an overexpression of the LRRK2 gene inserted into their genomic sequence, although its pathogenesis is not entirely clear. Antioxidants serve as therapeutic interventions against oxidative stress due to their scavenging abilities to neutralize free-radicals. CoQ10 is an antioxidant that specifically targets the electron transport chain by preventing leakage of oxygen from complex I, a main source of the formation of superoxide. I hypothesize that overexpression of the LRRK2 gene causes the onset of Parkinson’s disease by increasing oxidative stress due to electron transport chain dysfunction. Additionally I hypothesize that therapeutic intervention of CoQ10 would attenuate symptoms of PD present in the WLZ1 strain, with dopamine neurons visualized by green fluorescent protein tagged to the DAergic nervous system. This summer, Dr. Kohn and I developed a strain of C. elegans that tagged DAergic neurons with GFP, and this upcoming fall we will begin administering the antioxidant.

My Research Conferences
  • Drexel University Psi Chi Research Symposium - Spring 2015
  • Lehigh University Undergraduate Research Symposium – Spring 2015
  • Haverford College Undergraduate Research Symposium – Fall 2014
  • Temple University  Psi Chi Research Symposium – Spring 2014

Life After Ursinus

Researching Parkinson’s disease in the neurobiology lab with Dr. Kohn has been an invaluable experience that has helped me determine what I want to pursue as a career. I hope to obtain a PhD in Cellular Neuroscience and teach at a university.