Courtesy of Vimala Kaza

First-year student dives into chemical engineering research

Nina Daneshvar has been involved with research at USC since she was a senior in high school.

Nina Daneshvar will be in Austin, Texas, to present her own theoretical research at the American Junior Academy of Science Conference, but her interest in research at USC began long before her move-in day last fall. The first-year biochemistry student from Irmo, South Carolina, became involved in research in the chemical engineering department while she was still in high school. 

During this time, Daneshvar delved into the characteristics of the cell membrane. This theoretical research involved creating models on her computer and working to see how Ras proteins affect the cell membrane. 

“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do," she said. "Now I know I want it to be in the health sciences.” 

Daneshvar volunteered at a hospital and discovered that she loved working one-on-one with patients, prompting her to get involved with research that was more hands-on. 

“I want to see a different perspective to what these people who are in pharmacy are doing with their knowledge,” Daneshvar said. 

This year, she is working in a lab with associate professor Hippokratis Kiaris in the South Carolina College of Pharmacy. This research involves studying the behaviors of deer mice, and Daneshvar’s lab in particular studies deer mice which harbor mutations that mimic epilepsy in humans. The lab compares the brain structures of these mice to the brain structures of humans with epilepsy, hoping to learn more about the implications in gene therapy for humans. 

“It’s just really interesting to see the real-life applications of working with [the mice],” she said.

Daneshvar spent the fall training and taking courses to be able to work with the mice and is starting to dive into the research this semester. 

“Nina is very bright, very talented and she is very efficient,” said Kiaris. 

Daneshvar said that she enjoys working with Kiaris’ lab group and hopes to work more with them in the future. Outside of the College of Pharmacy, she is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health organization on campus.

In the future, she hopes to complete her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and continue on to medical school or pharmacy school.


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