Hugo Arellano '09, alumnus

Hugo Arellano ’09, a native of Mexico City, is studying molecular and cellular biology at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. In his graduate program, his laboratory work is focused on understanding how mitosis occurs at the molecular level.

“We currently use state-of-the-art techniques in both biochemistry and biophysics, some of which I learned while working in physics Professor Josh Shaevitz’s lab at Princeton’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics,” he says.

Arellano’s area of inquiry is the mitotic spindle, described by the principal investigator in his laboratory, Professor Charles Asbury, as “an exquisite molecular machine that organizes and separates duplicated chromosomes during cell division, thereby ensuring equal partitioning of the genetic material.” The research is important in uncovering the mysteries of cancers and birth defects. Also heading up the research is Sue Biggins, who received a Ph.D. in molecular biology at Princeton and is an associate professor at the University of Washington.

Arellano chose to attend Princeton because he knew he would be able to pursue his diverse intellectual interests, which range from biophysics to social and political issues. He was particularly attracted to studying physics at Princeton because of the University’s Integrated Science Program, which bridges the traditional boundaries between the biological and physical sciences and offers exceptional opportunities for independent research.

While at Princeton, Arellano took full advantage of the range of academic offerings. He remembers Professor Bill Bialek’s lectures, and how Bialek offered a “whole systems” approach that he found so interesting.

He also took classes in sociology and Spanish literature and spent one summer in Mexico conducting research on the cultural integration of indigenous populations in Veracruz.

Arellano focused on questions of integration and identity because he believes that the problems behind so many social issues emerge because "people don't know each other."

Throughout his education, Arellano looked for ways to go beyond "difference" by making friends with students from around the world and by participating in various cultural and service activities. Before coming to Princeton, he attended the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore, one of a consortium of international secondary schools that emphasizes a multicultural perspective and social service.

One of Arellano’s favorite activities as a student, which he started his freshman year, was dancing with the Ballet Folklórico de Princeton, which performs traditional Mexican folk dances. "I love that," he says. "Not only is it very different from being in the lab, but it also speaks to the culture behind the dances." Arellano was also active in the Davis International Center .