Salvador Castillo

Salvador Castillo, a young man in a tye-dye lab coat, pipettes at a lab bench GLBRC 2023 Summer Undergraduate Research Program participant Salvador Castillo worked in Chris Hittinger's Lab at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

This summer I had the privilege to be a part of both the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Biological Interactions REU program and the GLBRC summer research program. I was mentored by Linda Horianopoulos under Dr. Hittinger’s lab at the Wisconsin Energy Institute. It was in this lab that I learned new techniques and skills in microbiology, performed experiments I had yet to do, and was introduced to computational biology. The project I worked on focused on using the common yeast model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae to evaluate galactose metabolism across distantly related yeast species. Some species of yeast have only retained one gene within the galactose metabolizing pathway, so we set out test the functionality – if any – of this gene for each of those species. 

Coming to Madison, Wisconsin all the way from Georgia, I was excited yet nervous about walking into a new environment. Everyone in my lab was very welcoming, and I was able to learn from them both inside and outside of the lab. My mentor did her all to teach, guide, and make my experience here in Madison the best it could be. 

Salvador Castillo holds up a certificate while kneeling on the ground surrounded by his colleagues.

I thought the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center provided many opportunities for students to excel. I found the trip to Michigan State and the Kellogg Biological Station to be very insightful and it helped me better see and appreciate the mission and goals the GLBRC has amongst all collaborators. 

I will forever take with me the connections I made over the summer. I learned so much about research and myself – and galactose of course. I’m very thankful for the GLBRC, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and those involved in making these opportunities available for students. 

Read more GLBRC Summer REU blogs here.