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A better scientist because of opportunity

A better scientist because of opportunity

Posted by: on May 20, 2015   |Comments (0)|Undergraduate Research

rogersOn April 18th, Matthew Sanborn ’15 and I attended the annual Eastern Colleges Science Conference (ECSC) at Niagara University. The day before, we had taken the long drive to the city of Niagara Falls so we could see the falls. ECSC is a relatively small conference, typically hosting representatives from about 20-30 universities. All of the students in attendance are undergraduates, who give oral platform presentations or poster presentations. It’s a great conference because it’s interesting to see what other undergraduates are doing as research. Also, both the platform presentations and poster presentations are judged as part of a competition. As always, it was fun to meet undergraduates from other schools.

I gave a platform presentation at this conference titled “Characterization of Yeast Bax Inhibitor, bxi1, Function in Cell Death, the Unfolded Protein Response, and Calcium Signaling in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” The presentation was centered on research done over a number of years by many students. Specifically, our work suggests that the yeast Bax Inhibitor gene has functions both in programmed cell death and the unfolded protein response in yeast. Both programmed cell death and the unfolded protein response are ancient molecular pathways found in organisms from yeast to humans, so learning more about how these processes work is fascinating basic research.

sanborn1I have given a few poster presentations before, but this was my first time ever giving an oral presentation. I was nervous, but I found that I really enjoyed giving my talk. I learned later in the night that I had won an award for the best poster presentation in my group of talks, which I was very happy to receive. The conference was a nice way to round off my senior year in the lab. I’m sad to be leaving PC and the lab soon, but I will always remember what I have learned here. I think that my research in Father Austriaco’s lab has helped me become more competent as a scientist — both in my way of thinking and in my skills at the bench. I hope that many others will have the opportunity for a great undergraduate research experience, just as I have had.

On April 18th, Matthew Sanborn ’15 and I attended the annual Eastern Colleges Science Conference (ECSC) at Niagara University. The... MORE

Slow and Steady: Science Takes Time

Posted by: on April 16, 2015   |Comments (0)|Undergraduate Research

stephenrSince the beginning of the semester, we [some biology students and Father Nic Austriaco] have been working on two research projects with yeast. We are continuing with the work I wrote about last time, in which we are attempting to see how aneuploidy, or the possession of an incorrect number of chromosomes, affects programmed cell death in yeast. As a part of this project, we are still working to knock out the gene YCA1, which is responsible for yeast programmed cell death, from our aneuploid cells. This work has proven to be difficult despite multiple attempts under different conditions. Father Austriaco has been helping us work through the work, but progress has been slow.

Since I started doing research after freshman year, I have come to realize that research almost always seems to proceed slowly like this project, but I have also learned that even the frustrating times are a worthwhile learning experience. In addition to this research, Alexandra Chasse ’17 and I have just begun another project, in which we are attempting to force yeast to clump together using molecular biology. Doing so would, in a sense, make the yeast multicellular. To do so, we will introduce the gene encoding the human protein E-cadherin to our yeast. This protein helps hold human epithelial cells together, so the hope is that it will be able to hold yeast together in the same way. If this project is successful, we will examine any physiological changes in the yeast once they begin clumping.

In a few days, I will travel with Matthew Sanborn ’17 and students from other research labs at PC to the Eastern Colleges Science Conference (ECSC) at Niagara University to deliver an oral presentation about the research that our lab has been doing. I’m excited to get to give a presentation like this for the first time, but I still have some work to do on it before we leave. I’ll give on update on how the conference went once we return.

Until next time,

Stephen

Since the beginning of the semester, we [some biology students and Father Nic Austriaco] have been working on two research... MORE