Research Scholars Summer 2017

Mikayla Pulliam, Dr. Hollie Jacobs Lab

This summer, I will be working for Dr. Jacobs in an Organic Chemistry lab. I am working to make an efficient and novel route to synthesize hydroxamic acids tethered by sulfonamide bonds. This molecule will have a variety of biomedical applications. A hydroxamic acid can be used in drugs as enzyme inhibitors because they chelate metals such as Gd(III) or Fe(III). I am working to synthesize a hydroxamic acid linked by a sulfonamide because sulfonamides are stable to enzymatic hydrolysis in the body, and will make the molecule a more stable drug-Mikayla Pulliam.

Alvaro Hobbs, Dr. Kevin Houston Lab

I work in a biochemistry lab that works on breast cancer cells. We focus our research on tamoxifen (drug commonly used) and trying to identify the mechanisms by which some of these cancer cells are resistant. We have shown that tamoxifen induces the expression of insulin growth factor receptor Binding protein 1 (IGFRBP1) and are trying to see how this affects cells; we hypothesize that resistant cells are able to live despite an increase in the expression of this binding protein-Alvaro Hobbs.

Gabriel Clark, Dr. Champa Gopalan Lab

In our plant genetics lab the overall goal is to produce a more efficient forage cultivar of alfalfa using both techniques of genetic modification and traditional breeding. Time spent spring our research is usually taken up by comparing and competing different transformants with non transformed alfalfa cultivars. Presently my research is focused on a specific transformation called SPS-7, which shows good forage characteristics; we are focused on determining whether or not SPS-7 is drought tolerant and are setting up appropriate experiments to tests this-Gabriel Clark.

Patrick Kenney, Dr. Emily Indriolo Lab

In the Indriolo lab, I work with pollination compatibility of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana. We are characterizing previously described genes for self-pollen rejection pathways that promotes out crossing within transgenic Brassica napa. We will also be working with a protein complex that coats membrane bound vesicles for intracellular transport and protein sorting, known as COP1. We are studying the disruption of the subunits within COP1 and how it effects plant growth and survival, along with performing co-localization assays-Patrick Kenney.

Nubia Bermudez, Dr. Amanda Ashley/ Dr. Ryan Ashley Lab

Trophoblast attachment to the endometrium and placental development are critical processes during early pregnancy. Failure of normal placental formation results in fetal growth complications and can impact survival. Our lab demonstrated that inhibiting the chemokine receptor CXCR4 impacts proteins involved in placental development. To further define the role CXCR4 signaling may play at the fetal-maternal interface, we examined the presence of ephrin ligands and their receptors using immunoblotting in sheep endometrium after CXCR4 inhibition. Signaling by ephrin ligand through their respective receptors is important for cell adhesion, migration and proliferation in normal placental development. We hypothesize that ephrins are affected by CXCR4 inhibition in vivo-Nubia Bermudez.

Anthony Collin, Dr. Chris Cramer Lab

Onion production worldwide is challenged by weed, insect, and disease problems. The NMSU onion breeding program, a program aimed to develop onions that are resistant to these problems, is also faced with the additional problem of decline of the pollinators (Honey bees) used to cross pollinate our onions during seed production. My research aims to explore the efficacy of co-cropping Mint-family species of plants with the onions to address the previously mentioned issues. In addition to testing the practice with one ideal species, we are evaluating the flower timing and value to pollinators of a handful of other Mint-family species. Our hopes are to increase productivity for onion breeders, and potentially onion producers around the world-Anthony Collin.

Valerie Brewer, Dr. Karen Mabry Lab

This research determines the genetic distance between urban and rural song sparrow populations by comparing their allelic frequencies. The genetic distance of the urban and rural song sparrow populations is an indication of the populations’ ability to breed with each other, a crucial factor in sustaining genetic diversity. Allelic frequencies for this analysis are obtained for each individual through the amplification of song sparrow specific microsatellite loci. Through this research, implications of urbanization’s effects on song bird gene flow may be obtained-Valerie Brewer.

Cierrah Kassetas, Dr. Adam Summers Lab

My research project is comparing three different weight classes of cattle (heifers, cows, and mature cows) with the amount of progesterone absorbed when a CIDR (Controlled Internal Drug Release) is inserted in the vagina.  The CIDR is used to synchronize a herd so they will all come into heat at the same time.  I will be using RIA (radio-immuno assays) to measure the amount of progesterone once the CIDR has been removed.  We hypothesize that there may be a difference in the amount of progesterone that is utilized within each weight class-Cierrah Kassetas.

Bahiyyih Mitchell, Dr. Graciela Unguez Lab

This summer I will be researching the regenerative capabilities of the South American gymnotiform fish Sternopygus macrurus. It is possible that the environment can influence regeneration in these fish, either stunting or inhibiting it. I will focus on analyzing how environmental factors such as lighting or diet affect regeneration. I will also use BrdU immunohistochemistry and TUNEL staining to determine the cellular mechanisms involved in the stunting or inhibition of regeneration-Bahiyyih Mitchell.

Nubia Rivas, Dr. Giancarlo Lopez-Martinez Lab

My research involves the hormetic effects from x-ray irradiation on drosophila melanogaster. More specifically my drosophila is modified to have Parkinson Disease like symptoms. We hope to see that the modified drosophila will greatly benefit from this irradiation treatment-Nubia Rivas.

Addi Moya, Dr. Paola Mera Lab

The hypothesis is that bacterial methylation of proteins is used to regulate the activity of cytoskeletal proteins. We identified 6 genes that encode different methyltransferases in Caulobacter Crescentus. The goal is to construct a mutant strain in which all six methyltransferase genes are deleted. A plasmid was constructed to delete the gene of interest, using transformation via electroporation. Phenotypes are compared to the wild type. So far gene 03465 has been deleted, morphological results appear normal in relation to the wild type. Results from this project will potentially identify novel strategies bacteria use to regulate their growth-Addi Moya.

Off Campus Internships

Eliana Griego, Dr. Brad Shuster Lab- EXROP, Fred Hutch Center, Sue Biggins Lab

Angelique Amado, Dr. Feifei Li Lab, Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI), Lisa Miller Lab

Grace Hooks, Dr. Amanda Ashley Lab, Yale University, Patrick Sung Lab

Clara Hansen, Dr. Tim Wright Lab, Honors College International Research Travel Grant, Uruguay

Parrots can learn vocalizations throughout their lifetimes, which may help them maneuver complex social contexts similar to human societies. Parrots are therefore ideal models to inform us about the evolution of human language. I propose to map geographic variation in vocalizations of the monk parakeets in Uruguay, part of this species’ native range. Geographic patterns of variation in vocalizations are well known as arising from vocal learning abilities, similar to dialects in human societies. By measuring vocal variation over geographic distance, representing distinct levels of sociality, I will be able to determine which social scales are important for vocal communication and transmission of information in this parrot species-Clara Hansen.

Sydney Salas, Dr. Michele Nishiguchi Lab, Partial Honors College International Research Travel Grant, France

A shadow-less creature moves across the ocean’s surface, evading predators with an alien like bioluminescence. This organism known as the bobtail squid, represents a specialized symbiotic relationship where the squid serves as a host for bioluminescent bacterial symbionts: Vibrio logei and Vibrio fischeri. Quorum sensing mechanisms regulate luminescence genes in both bacterial species, generating the right amount of bioluminescence within the squid to match down welling moonlight. This project explores the mechanisms as to how different species of bacteria are able to communicate with one another, and the implications their association have on the overall symbiosis with the squid host-Sydney Salas.

Dante Avalos, Dr. Erik Yukl Lab-EXROP, Cornell University, Michelle Wang Lab