Intensive Summer Research Scholars 2018

Junior Research Scholars Summer 2018


Avery Shoots, Dr. Patricia Lodato Lab, Biology

“My research centers around the SOS response in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli bacteria (EHEC). I use a strain of attenuated EHEC which is inducible for the RNAse E gene and am investigating the effect of varying RNAse E levels on excision of the stx virus. I do this by changing levels of the reagent IPTG to control expression of the RNAse E gene, treating the cells with Mitomycin C to instigate the SOS response and then using western blots to follow RecA and LexA expression in different RNAse E conditions”.

Billy Muro, Dr. Clint Löest Lab, Animal & Range Sciences

“My Project focuses on the effects of glycerol in rumen bacteria. We are measuring VFA content produced by rumen bacteria with various levels of glycerol concentration. We are also going to see the potential to develop a supplement to negate the negative feedback glycerol has on ammonium and nitrogen retention”.

Clara Maxam, Dr. Ryan Ashley Lab, Animal & Range Sciences

“Immunological changes after inhibiting chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) at the fetal-maternal interface in sheep were investigated. Osmotic pumps containing CXCR4 inhibitor or saline (control) were surgically installed to deliver treatments into the ovine uterus. Blood was collected daily and spleen tissue collected at necropsy on days 20 and 35 of gestation for mRNA analysis. Compared to control, TGFB1 expression rose on day 14 and IL10 declined on day 26 in peripheral blood. In spleen from treated ewes, TGFB1 increased while IL10 decreased on days 20 and 35, respectively. These results indicate disrupting CXCR4 signaling in the uterus affects peripheral immunity”.

Brandon Harrison, Dr. Champa Gopalan Lab, Plant & Environmental Sciences

“For my research project, I am comparing the effectiveness of different promoters in transgenic Medicago sativa (alfalfa). In particular, I will be comparing several transformations that contain the Sucrose Phosphate Synthase (SPS) gene from Zea mays (corn), which is involved in sucrose synthesis. The gene constructs contain the same SPS gene and selectable marker (Kanamycin resistance), but differ in the promoter used. One transformation uses the promoter from the RUBISCO gene so that it is expressed only in photosynthetic cells, while the other uses the 35S promoters from Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMv35S) so that it is expressed constitutively, mostly in the vasculature. Comparison between these transformations includes growth, forage quality, carbon metabolism, nitrogen metabolism, etc.”.

Carlos Campos, Dr. Tim Wright Lab, Biology

“My research focuses on Blue-Throated Macaw conservation genetics. We use Polymerase-Chain Reaction to amplify genetic markers such as polymorphic microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA. We plan on testing for population structure, divergence, and pedigree as well as the presence of a population bottleneck and the presence of inbreeding and inbreeding depression”.

David Rodriguez, Dr. Kevin Houston Lab, Chemistry & Biochemistry

“Fluorescence lifetime is being related to different cell metabolic pathways such as glycolysis. Fluorescence lifetime value differs when cancer cells are sensitive to a specific drug. On my research, tamoxifen is used to measure sensitivity at different doses for breast cancer cells. Also, we are looking for which metabolism it is faster or if it does depends on the treatment and the cell line and how it is related to fluorescence lifetime values”.

Trung Nguyen, Dr. Barbara Lyons Lab, Chemistry & Biochemistry

“Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma (FL-HCC) is a rare and aggressive liver cancer subtype that almost exclusively occurs in adolescents. It is believed to be caused by a mutation that results in a fusion (chimera) protein between the heat shock protein DNAJB1, and protein kinase A (PKA or PRKACA). Nevertheless, little progress has been made in characterizing the fusion protein DNAJB1-PRKACA’s role due to the rarity of FL-HCC. I am currently working towards characterizing the fusion protein in terms of its structural features to understand how differently it interacts with its targets in cancer cells in comparison to those of normal PKA in healthy cells. Last but not least, of particular interest is also the pathological role that the chimera protein has from a cell molecular biology and genetics viewpoint”.

Frederick Hansen, Dr. Nicole Pietrasiak Lab, Plant & Environmental Sciences

“The distribution patterns of soil microbes living independent of vascular plants are poorly understood, especially so in desert ecosystems. Soil microbes and biological soil crusts which are living aggregates containing bacteria, cyanobacteria, algae, fungi and other components, provide important ecosystem services to desert habitats. In my research I am investigating the microbial diversity of soil surfaces in the intershrub area of the five main vegetative zones within the Jornada Basin located in Southern New Mexico, using genetic and physical techniques. To understand the diversity and drivers of microbial diversity within the soils, I studied the abiotic and biotic characteristics of the soils within the various sites and hope to test various soil characteristics such as pH, electrical conductivity, moisture, and texture for their effect on microbial diversity. Understanding the ecosystem’s soil microbial diversity and diversity drivers will help in preserving and restoring areas that are vulnerable to disturbance or change”.

Jocelyne Chavez, Dr. Shelley Lusetti Lab, EXROP Participant, Dr. Irving Epstein, Brandeis University, MA

Prisila Ramirez, Dr. Amanda Ashley Lab, EXROP Participant, Dr. Vivian Cheung, University of Michigan, MI