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Barks and Beetle Guts

Research image

Japanese Soh Daiko performance

2015 Biology Student Research Symposium spans breadth of organic life

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

More than 40 students studying biology, neuroscience and biochemistry & molecular-biology are performing original research this year, often working jointly with professors and/or scientists at large research universities. That adds up to a total of 20 active research projects in those disciplines alone. All were highlighted during the 2015 Biology Student Research Symposium, a Feb. 20 event that included student-led lectures and a poster session in the Stafford Auditorium and Rector Atrium.

Members of the public and campus community were invited to view the displays and ask questions about the students’ recent and ongoing work.

On the animal front, research on dogs (Steven Collins ’15, Ashley Kinney ’15 and Grace Mulcahy ’16) and prairie dogs (Andrew Veselka ’15) provided analyses of canine-human communication and ground squirrels’ contributions to the ecosystem.

As Sam Bogan ’16 analyzed wastewater samples from coastal ponds in Woods Hole, Mass., Lev Gerstle ’15, Kinzea Jones ’15 and Ian Ravin ’16 worked with samples from much closer to home, as they investigated insect biodiversity at the College Farm.

Megan Stekla ’15, Rachel Thompson ’15 and Yeana Jang ’15 delved into human biology, studying the role of collectin surfactant protein A in the human inflammatory response, while Johnnie Abell ’15 looked into the formation of the cardiac inflow tract. Juliana Schneider ’15, Mansoor Ghoto ’15 and Abigail Marriott ’16 continued student-faculty research on reprogramming acute myeloid leukemia cells, and Cassandra Holbert ’16 investigated whether a “survival gene” could cause cancer-cell death.

Kayla Muirhead ’15 and Thomas Nowlan ’15 earned points for the most plucky project titles. Muirhead presented This Gut’s Got Character, a study of the phylogenetic relationship of beetle-gut yeasts, and Nowlan offered ChIPping Away at Chip, Nowlan’s quest to identify targets of the scalloped gene.

The annual symposium was just one of many public presentations to be delivered by students this semester. The 40-plus student-scientists involved with this event will gather together again toward the end of the spring semester to present during an all-sciences research symposium.

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Published February 24, 2015