Lab Days of Summer
Even through the dog days of summer, the John Toll Science Center is buzzing with activity. Sixteen students are pursuing undergraduate research projects in collaboration with their professors in biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, physics, and psychology. Here are just a few examples:
Maija Adourian ’18 and Mindy Reynolds, associate professor of biology, are testing for relationships between metal toxicity and cancer.
Rose Adelizzi ’19 and Robin Van Meter, assistant professor of environmental science, are looking at the effects of pesticides in frogs.
And Kaitlyn Marino ’19 is working with James Windelborn, assistant professor of biology, to develop a laboratory model to determine how stroke causes the death of neurons in the brain.
For this project, Marino is generating genetic bits called plasmids that she can use to target specific molecules in adult specimens of zebrafish.
“The really exciting thing about this model is that the genetic change is inducible,” says Marino, “so we as researchers can say, ‘Ok, we want this gene to stop functioning now.’ We allow the zebrafish to develop into adulthood normally, and then once we induce that stroke, we can observe metabolic and behavioral changes in the presence or absence of the gene of interest.”
The next step, says Windelborn, is to develop the system to identify specific genes that play a role in brain damage following a stroke. As for Marino, a dual major in biology and psychology, she intends to pursue a PhD in neuroscience and then focus on research and teaching.
“Looking at the cellular mechanism behind the behavior, and seeing how that behavior changes when the cell mechanism changes, that’s what I find really interesting, because you have this cause-and-effect relationship happening that you can ground in quantitative data.”