Janae Gayle
Janae Gayle

About Janae

I am a fourth year undergraduate student at UCSB studying Pharmacology and I am in the UC LEADS program. Along with taking college classes, I’m also heavily involved in research within the Pruitt Lab. I am also a first generation college student from Stockton, California and I hope to pursue a B.S. then earn my PhD.


During my senior year in high school I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Pharmacology. Although I didn’t have a clear idea, at that time, of what exactly I wanted to pursue within Pharmacology, I knew that I wanted to go to a university that would give me the tools to figure that out. While researching for universities that had a major in pharmacology, UCSB stuck out the most to me because it offered an environment that I could excel in while studying. The UCSB campus is vibrant and full of flourishing student life as well as plant and aquatic life. The staff and professors on campus are very willing to help and mentor the students in finding their path during and after college. Reflecting back on my college decision, I’m glad I chose UCSB and all of the opportunities the university has given me.

What is your area of research?

My area of research focuses on utilizing specific softwares to analyze the effects of certain perturbations on human induced pluripotent stem cell -derived cardiomyocytes. I use analysis image tools, like CONTRAX and Sarc-graph, to analyze how treatments that mimic disease or drug interactions affect cell morphology, including the alignment, lengthening, and size of the sarcomeres - the motor units of muscle cells. Specifically, I have analyzed hundreds of videos of pulsing sarcomeres in cells to learn how they were affected by a certain chemotherapy drug. Next up, I am looking at the new classes of cardiac drugs and how they change cell morphology and function.

What are the highlights of being in a research lab?

One of the greatest highlights of being within the Pruitt lab is the amount of support and connections created. As an undergraduate student, my first time within a research lab was intimidating. I was overwhelmed with feelings of worry about how I would fit in within the lab. Nevertheless, the Pruitt Lab has welcomed me and made me feel a part of a team. Along with my mentors' help, I’ve received guidance and support from other members within my lab. The Pruitt lab has not only helped me be better with my research skills but also presentation and networking skills.

What do you find rewarding about your research?

My research is rewarding because, on a much bigger scale, it may lead to advances in medicine. Through this research I’ve realized the impacts medicine can have and the effects it can have on others. In addition, my research allowed me to learn how to code and use softwares for data analysis. Before beginning research I had no experience coding, through this experience I was able to understand certain softwares and I’ve been able to produce a code that makes data analysis possible.

Tips for anyone pursuing research?

My number one tip for anyone pursuing research is that it is okay to fail as long as you learn and continue on. Before beginning research, I underestimated the “trial and error” factor that goes along with research. I had so much trouble with data analysis and being able to understand code that it took longer than expected to be able to find the proper software to analyze data. However, after speaking with other researchers, I realized that “trial and error” is important in research and will strengthen a researcher's understanding of their project. Through the problems I encountered in research, my coding skills were strengthened and my understanding of how different softwares works was better.

Awards and honors?

Beginning with my freshman year at UCSB, I’ve been accepted into the EUREKA scholars program and the following year, UC LEADS. I also had the wonderful opportunity to take part in the undergraduate poster presentation at the BIC symposium held at UCSB and I was awarded with the best undergraduate poster presentation.

What are your hobbies?

I love reading and being active by working out. I also love hanging with my friends or walking to the beach. I am also involved in Intervarsity, a Christian organization on campus, and I love participating in fun events hosted by this group.