Jordan Wall- Student Profile
Molecular Metabolism & Metabolic Diseases Track
Mentor: Peter Douglas, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Degree: Biological Sciences
Undergraduate Institution: Louisiana State University
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
Awards/Fellowships: LSU Discover Undergraduate Research grant (Undergraduate, Spring 2020); LSU Discover Undergraduate Research grant (Undergraduate, Summer 2020); LSU Distinguished Undergraduate Researcher Award (Undergraduate, December 2020)
What year did you matriculate into the graduate school at UTSW?
How did you become interested in science and/or research specifically?
I was always fascinated by the complexities within biology, however, it wasn't until my junior year of high school, when I took my first college-level biology course, that I realized my passion for science. The unknowns within the field of biology inherently excited me and instilled my curiosity as a student, and furthermore showed me how science could be pursued as a career. As a result, I enrolled in the biological sciences program at Louisiana State University. In my sophomore year of college, I joined Dr. Alyssa Johnson’s lab as a student worker. My first collaborative project was researching the valosin-containing protein (VCP) disease mutations, which cause an autosomal dominant disease known as Inclusion Body Myopathy with Paget's Disease of the Bone and Frontotemporal Dementia (IBMPFD). IBMPFD is a progressive degenerative disease affecting the muscles, bones, and brain but varies in pathology and clinical penetrance between patients. My project aimed to determine if our model organism, Drosophila, could be utilized to study VCP diseases. Joining Dr. Johnson's lab allowed me to apply what I had learned in the classroom to a real-life setting, and quickly, I knew this work would fulfill my life purpose and thus, I chose to pursue my PhD at UTSW.
Tell us about your research project and its relevance to human health (if any).
My research in Dr. Peter Douglas’s lab is focused on elucidating how lipid depletion alters translation rates. Much of our understanding on how nutrient stress impacts translational regulation comes from highly proliferative cells in which cellular starvation is achieved through depletion of solitary nutrients such as sugars and amino acids. However, lipids are also essential macromolecules which cells can utilize for energy production under times of metabolic demand, and it remains unclear whether loss of lipid availability affects translation. Therefore, my research project aims to detail the molecular mechanisms underlying how cellular lipid depletion affects translation within an intact multicellular organism (C. Elegans) and holds outstanding potential to extend into mammalian model systems.
Why did you choose to come to UTSW for graduate school?
What interested me the most, was the reputation UTSW had for cutting edge research. I wanted to be in an environment where I could develop as a scientist and be supported by some of the top faculty in the country. I decided to pursue my Ph.D. at UTSW because of the collaborative environment, limitless opportunities for research, and ample resources.
In your opinion, what makes your specific program one of the top in the country?
The metabolism and metabolic disease track (3MD) at UTSW is like no other. Having the opportunity to learn about metabolism from expert scientists and Nobel-prize winners is something unique and specific that UTSW offers.
What do you love about your program or why should a prospective student decide to get their Ph.D. here?
UTSW emphasizes the importance of collaboration within the university. The faculty is very supportive and wants to see you succeed. As a student, experts in any field of science are in the same building as me and are willing to help and teach me new techniques.
– Jordan Wall, Molecular Metabolism & Metabolic Diseases Track and Genetics, Development & Disease Graduate Program