Graduate Research Spotlight: Jindanuch Maneekul | College of Science
August 16, 2022

Graduate Research Spotlight: Jindanuch Maneekul

Meet Jindanuch Maneekul, a graduate student of UNT Biological Sciences conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Lee Hughes. Jin was one of the recipients of the Dean's Doctoral Summer Research Stipend this year, which helped her focus on her research through the summer months. Her lab work is about discovering a new way to overcome antibiotic resistant infections.

"Basically, we take advantage of the nature of the viruses that can kill bacteria. The viruses naturally use a protein called "endolysin" to break down the cell," she said. "So, I exploit several computational tools to search for the new and interesting endolysins that can kill bacteria. Out of 250 proteins, I proposed three candidates. Currently, I'm in the process of producing these proteins and testing for their antimicrobial activities."

Endolysin can be used as an alternative to antibiotics. Last year, the World Health Organization reported that there are only two endolysin products in clinical studies. They even suggested that endolysin could be used alone or together with antibiotics, and there is no report of resistance to endolysin.

"The virus that kills bacteria is the real inspiration. Endolysin is basically the weapon that the virus produces and uses to kill bacteria," said Jin. "In our lab, we have been working on an antibiotic producer bacteria called Streptomyces. This strain has been overlooked since nobody wants to kill it. This is why we do not know much about the viruses that attack this strain."

Jin also said one of the most challenging aspects of her research is getting to know the details of these particular proteins, since they are so new. She appreciates making progress learning from her experiments, no matter the outcome.

Jin works with many faculty members on her research: Drs. Lee Hughes, Douglas Root, Calvin Henard, Jason Gill (TAMU), and Tracy Kim.

"They are all very helpful. I have learned a lot during the proposal defense. They were continuously throwing ideas during the defense. Dr. Hughes, my major professor is very supportive and has always given me the freedom to design my own project/experiments. I have grown up a lot in this lab as I learn to be in charge and take responsibilities. More importantly, he is the one who inspired me to work on endolysin," she said. "Dr. Root is the professor whom I took classes with. I really like how he designs his courses. I have learned about both biochemical theories and techniques from his classes. He is always there and very easy to reach out whenever I have a question. Dr. Henard is also very knowledgeable and an expert in biochemistry and molecular biology. He is the one who inspired me to write up a good (grant) proposal. Dr. Gill is, of course, an expert in endolysin. Dr. Hughes suggested I invite him to join the committee. His advice is very specific to what I am doing. Dr. Kim is very supportive as well. She always gives me useful advice related to DNA and its applications. Last but not least, although Dr. Daniel Kunz is not in my committee, he has helped me a lot during my difficult times in research."

"Working with Jin is always a great experience," said Dr. Hughes. "She is thoughtful in her experiments, hard-working, and always has a positive attitude no matter the challenges."

Before receiving her Master's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from UNT, Jin acquired her bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences from Rangsit University in Thailand. She chose UNT because her Thai professors, Drs. Acharawan Thongmee and Patamapon Sukplang, are alumni of UNT and attended graduate school at the same time as Dr. Hughes. It turned out to be a perfect fit.

Jin is also a lover of music and heard great things about the College of Music at UNT. She said that being here has allowed her to slow down and rekindle her love for music.

"One of my main goals of joining UNT is not only pursuing my graduate studies but also experiencing amazing music!" she said. "In the past, I devoted myself to school or to work, but here I have found joy alternating between the lab and the piano practice room."

Jin wants to remind undergraduates that the PHAGES lab (BIOL1750) offers opportunities for them to experience research in biology. Her advice for fellow students hoping to pursue research is "Just do it."

"If you know you have an investigative mind, spending your time and energy on research is such a great idea, as it's not just for yourself but for others! Being curious and taking actions can help us move forward," she said. "To me, research is life."

Help support graduate research at the UNT College of Science by making a donation to the Dean's Doctoral Summer Stipend Fund today: