Students Advancing Biological Research & Engagement
Biology students working on research are most productive when they can spend 20-40 hours a week in the lab during summer hours, but the majority of them cannot afford to volunteer that much of their time. As a result, they miss important educational opportunities that can lead to significant progress in their scientific education, publications, conference presentations, and ultimately, their careers.
The current goal is to have funding available for at least five students by the 2014 summer sessions.
Meet the Summer 2014 SABRE candidates and learn about their research plans:
Sara will work with BIOS faculty member Dr. Cindy Linn using a rat model to study glaucoma. Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure on the optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness for which there is no cure. Sara’s project analyzes the effects of a specific type of chemical that has been shown to prevent neurons in the retina from dying under glaucoma conditions. These studies can lead to the development of new treatments for glaucoma that are not currently utilized. Sara plans on volunteering at Bronson Methodist Hospital in the Trauma and Emergency Care Department.
Katie will work with BIOS faculty member Dr. Kathryn Docherty to examine the biological effects of novel engineered chemicals. Newly designed green chemicals, such as ionic liquids, are meant to have a lower environmental impact than more toxic predecessors. However, much work is needed to predict the ability of these chemicals to be broken down by microorganisms in a waste water treatment plant. Katie’s work shows that, given the right microorganisms, it is possible to biodegrade these important chemicals in a matter of weeks and provide non-traditional clean-up solutions. Katie plans on volunteering at the
Kalamazoo Youth Development Center.
Nicole will work with BIOS faculty member Dr. John Spitsbergen to examine how certain types of proteins, called neurotrophic factors, influence neuron survival and development. Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a type of neurotrophic factor expressed in skeletal muscle that is important for survival and health of motor neurons. Motor neurons are the neurons that innervate skeletal muscle and are responsible for physical activity. The goals of Nicole’s studies are to understand the processes controlling expression of GDNF in skeletal muscle and to determine the consequences of altered GDNF expression with age or neurodegenerative disease. Nicole plans to volunteer at the Kalamazoo Youth Development Center.
Deirdre will work BIOS faculty member Dr. David Karowe to investigate the potential effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) on the relationship between carnivorous pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) and both the prey and non-prey communities that live inside them. Carnivorous plants are organisms that are particularly vulnerable to changes in atmospheric CO2 composition and can act as an early indicator species in examining the effects of climate change. Deirdre’s studies will focus on the effects of pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) nectar, color, and leaf shape on prey capture, using a combined field and laboratory approach. Deirdre plans to volunteer for the Clements for Congress campaign to prepare for the upcoming November 2014 election.