Undergraduate Biology student, Emily Ruba, doing research in the Slusarski Lab.

Slusarski Lab Research

Meet an Undergrad in the Lab: Emily Ruba

Research Description:

Dr. Slusarski’s research lab looks at organ development in zebrafish. The main question of the lab is to better understand human disease and the developmental processes that cause it. When Dr. Slusarski meets with students interested in joining the lab, Dr. Slusarski likes to know what the students' interests are to see if they align with the projects in the lab. When first starting in the lab, undergraduates will typically practice genetic crossings of zebrafish to better acquaint themselves with the organism. After learning how to cross, the student can be involved in more advanced tasks.

When did Emily start in the lab?

"I started in the summer of 2017."


Double major in biology and anthropology.

Background before Emily started working in the lab:

"I didn't have any scientific research background, but I worked in a research lab in the anthropology department before joining this lab."

Why Emily chose this lab?

"I volunteered at a Latham event during the spring semester of 2017 and helped usher people to Dr. Slusarski’s lab. While ushering people, I listened to an undergraduate in the lab present their research. While listening, I realized that I liked the research topic of the lab and decided to reach out to
Dr. Slusarski."

What has Emily done in the lab?

"So far, I have worked on two projects in the lab. These projects focus on vision development and heart malformation.

My first project dealt with the BBS12 gene. This gene is connected to Bardet- Biedl Syndrome and is thought to be localized in the photoreceptor cells. For this project, I did various immunohistochemistry treatments on the gene to see where it is located.

My second project focuses on the gene, RBM24B. The RBM24 gene is split into two parts: A and B, and is tied to both vision and heart formation. The gene, RBM24A, is connected to both heart and vision problems and RBM24B is only connected to heart problems. The knockout of RBM24B would be lethal in mice but it is not lethal in zebrafish, so they are able to have the fish develop to observe the problems. Currently, I am looking to see if a knockout of RBM24A could be rescued by RBM24B in regards to the heart problems associated with the deletion. I am going to accomplish this by microinjecting RNA I created last semester into zebrafish eggs. After injecting the eggs, I will closely monitor the eggs to observe if the rescue occurred."

What Emily wants to do in the future:

"I want to go to medical school to get my MD and possibly get a Master’s of Public Health depending on the school I choose."