The Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity

Daria Amiad Pavlov

Research Scholar

Major(s): Bioengineering
Project: Studying Molecular Activity in Cardiac Muscle

Daria chose to do research in a muscle-related field because of her work at the UW as a student athlete–her research allows her to understand the science behind her work in track at the UW. This is what she had to say.

dariapavlovlargeI was born in Moscow, Russia and moved with my family to Israel when I was 8 years old. I come from very athletic family; therefore the first toys I remember playing with were various sports equipment. Being an athlete required a lot of time but my parents always made it conditional to achieving my best at school.

I was always interested in science and around the beginning of high school started wondering about the connection of science to what I am doing as an athlete. This interest grew stronger and I made up my mind to continue my education in bioengineering so that I can investigate the different process of our body but also apply this knowledge. My achievements in track and field gave me the opportunity to come to University of Washington as student athlete and combine both of my passions in life. UW was a great fit for me because of its strong science and research standings but also because of its strong athletic program.

I was always interested in research, especially on skeletal muscle, but never had the chance to work in a lab; therefore I am grateful that I was given the opportunity, by Dr. Mike Regnier, to start my research experience in the Heart and Muscle Mechanics lab (HAMM). At first I assisted a research scientist in the lab, Dr. Galina Flint, with the goal of familiarization with the different projects and research techniques available in the lab. The first project I became involved in was to perform a solution ATPase essay to study the effect of EMD 57033 on skeletal and cardiac muscle contractile proteins. After some practice, I was able to perform these measurements independently and my experiments showed interesting results, opening me a door for further individual investigation. My goal in this project is to investigate the molecular mechanism of EMD activity in cardiac muscle to assess its possible therapeutic ability; since the experiments are performed on both skeletal and cardiac muscle cells, the project also helps to better understanding of general molecular mechanisms of cardiac and skeletal muscle activity, and their differences, because this may suggest possible target sites for specific therapeutic agents.

On my first day in HAMM lab, in summer 2007, I had no practical experience and very limited theoretical knowledge about the work being done there. Today I am handling skeletal and cardiac muscle cells, performing experimental measurements, analyzing the results and modifying the experimental design to better answer me experimental questions. For me the most exciting part of this research project, that can’t be taught in any classroom, is the interpretation of my data. I am not looking for the right answer to a question already known, but rather using my data to propose possible explanations for mechanism that are not yet known to us.

At first I had doubts that it is possible to combine my student responsibilities, full time athletic practices, and individual research project. Receiving the Mary Gates research scholarship showed me that I made the right choice by following all interests and supported my believe that being an athlete does not prevent me from excellence in the academic field as well. This research project provided me the opportunity to learn practical skills and methods in biomedical research, the chance to work under the guidance of excellent mentors, communicate and work in a group, develop problem solving skills and get a feeling of being a research scientist. I am positive that all those skills are going to serve me in my future education and career as biomedical research scientist.