Three H-SC biologists are currently working up north and representing the department in New England. Two of them, James Hughes ’14 and Alan Fish ’14, are working with Assistant Professor Mike Wolyniak at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. James is focusing on the annotation of the genome of a bacteriophage discovered at Hampden-Sydney while Alan is studying cell division properties in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Both of them are assisting Dr. Wolyniak with his work on genetic knockout strains of Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant used in the study of genetics.
Alan prepares yeast growth media
James uses a micromanipulator to separate yeast cells
Meanwhile, Giovanni Torres ’14 has been working on a project of his own design with Dr. Jennifer Rocklein-Canfield at Simmons College in Boston. Gio is cloning human genes involved in the formation of keloid scars and developing a series of DNA constructs in which interactions between human proteins can be studied in a yeast model.
Dr. Canfield works with Gio on setting up an experiment
The view from Gio’s lab—-Boston’s signature skyscrapers, the Prudential Center and the John Hancock Tower, are visible in the center
The Dartmouth crew visited Gio and Dr. Canfield for a joint lab meeting in which all 3 H-SC students could discuss their summer projects and plan future experiments.
H-SC biologists doing science in Boston
David Coe ’14 is being funded by the Hampden-Sydney College Honors Council and a Sears Fellowship to conduct research at H-SC this summer on the antibiotic susceptibility and resistance of bacterial eye pathogens. Under the guidance of Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon, Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology, David is employing the Kirby-Bauer method to study antibiotic resistance/susceptibility of several bacteria known to cause infections of the eye. Specifically, David’s work focuses on Haemophilus aegyptius, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus, and he is evaluating the susceptibility of these organisms to commonly prescribed antibiotics that include penicillin, tetracyclin, streptomycin, and chloramphenicol. David will also be evaluating whether these pathogens acquire increased resistance to these antibiotics over time by studying how their antibiotic susceptibility changes over multiple generations of growth. David plans to attend medical school following his graduation next spring!
From David himself:
I am really enjoying my time here on campus doing my research and relaxing with other biology majors. I am 3 weeks into a 6 week research project in which I am analyzing four bacteria known to cause bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye) with four commercially used antibiotics. So far I have managed to see sufficient growth and data from three of the four bacteria and am keeping my fingers crossed on the other. I find it so interesting to see how treating one culture with an antibiotic then growing bacteria from that same culture can show a significant gain in antibiotic resistance in just 24 hours. Along with Dr. Hargadon we have also found a “mutant” strain of P. aeruginosa, which so far has been resistant to all four antibiotics. With all my data I am hoping to look at different health care providers and see just how much they charge for the use of each antibiotic, and I would like to determine whether U.S. health providers are making decisions on financial benefit or health benefit.
David using the Bunsen burner for sterilization before inoculating cultures of bacteria!
David testing antibiotic resistance/susceptibility of his bacterial eye pathogens!
Through support of the Hampden-Sydney College Honors Council, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, and Sigma Xi, Drake Bishop ’14 is conducting research at Hampden-Sydney College this summer in collaboration with Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon, Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology. Drake is studying how melanoma-derived factors influence the maturation and activation of dendritic cells, an immune cell that plays a critical role in the induction of anti-tumor immune responses. Previous work in Dr. Hargadon’s laboratory has studied this phenomenon in vitro using dendritic cell lines grown in culture. Drake’s work represents an extension of these earlier studies, as he is employing an ex vivo model system that involves isolation of natural dendritic cells from the spleens of mice. Drake will continue this work during his senior year Departmental Honors Project in Biology. Upon graduation, Drake will attend Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he was accepted during his sophomore year through H-SC’s early assurance program with EVMS!
Drake doing one of his “favorite” lab activities . . . COUNTING CELLS!
Drake working with his dendritic cells in the laminar flow hood . . . sterile technique at its best!
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) recently held its annual symposium for students and faculty in the Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) project. Hampden-Sydney is one of ~80 schools nationwide in the project in which students isolate and characterize novel bacteriophage from the environment. Recent graduate Kris Miller ’13 presented his research on developing a quick and easy way to identify the type of bacteriophage identified without the expense of whole genome sequencing:
Kris Miller ’13 and his HHMI symposium poster
H-SC Assistant Professor and project advisor Mike Wolyniak with Kris Miller ’13
Now in its sixth year, the SEA-PHAGES program has successfully created a national network in which undergraduates can engage in authentic research experiences and develop compelling research questions based on the work of students at other institutions.
Miller presenting his research at the student poster session
Miller receiving his participant certificate and meeting Dr. Graham Hatfull of the University of Pittsburgh, SEA-PHAGES scientific leader, and Dr. David Asai, HHMI Undergraduate Science Education Program Director
The SEA-PHAGES symposium is held at HHMI’s Janelia Farm research facility in Ashburn, Virginia, home to research teams performing cutting edge research on neurobiology and development.
Allen Luck ’11, a laboratory technician at HHMI Janelia Farm with Charles River Laboratories, with Kris Miller ’13
The summer months are a time in which many of Hampden-Sydney’s biology students undertake research projects and internships both at the College and at other institutions of all types. In the coming weeks this blog will feature the experiences of several of Hampden-Sydney’s biologists during their summer experiences…check back often to learn more about their endeavors!
Alan Fish ’14 and James Hughes ’14 prepare soil for planting of Arabidopsis thaliana as part of their summer projects at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.
Yonathan Ararso, a biology major in the class of 2013, was recently awarded the Samuel S. Jones Phi Beta Kappa Award for original research at Hampden-Sydney’s 2013 Commencement Ceremony. The award, in the form of a gold medallion and a $4,000.00 cash prize, is one of the most prestigious and lucrative awards given at college and university graduations across the country. Yonathan received the award for his Senior Honors Project in Biology entitled “An shRNA-mediate RNA Silencing Approach to Understand the Role of Melanoma-derived Factors in the Suppression of Dendritic Cell Maturation and Activation.” He conducted his project under the mentorship of Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01, Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology. Yonathan plans to pursue graduate education and will be applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs in the fall.
Yonathan receiving the Jones Prize from Provost and Dean of the Faculty Dennis Stevens
We wish our graduates the best of luck as they finish their Hampden-Sydney careers!
John Michael Sparagna
The 2013 Biology graduates as depicted on cake
Each April the biology department recognizes some of its most outstanding students as a part of the College’s Final Convocation exercises. This year’s James R.T. Hewett Award for service and leadership to the department was given to Yonathan Ararso. Yonathan conducted departmental honors research on tumor immunology and was instrumental in helping to launch both the department’s Colloqiuim student seminar series and the Hampden-Sydney Journal of the Sciences.
Dr. Kristian Hargadon presents the Hewett award to Yonathan Ararso ’13
The department’s H.B. Overcash award, given to the department’s top pre-medical student in the junior class, was given to James Hughes ’14.
Dr. Hargadon and James Hughes ’14
Also at the ceremony, Dr. Mike Wolyniak received the College’s John Peter Mettauer Award for Excellence in Research in recognition of his work with the Undergraduate Phenotyping of Arabidopsis Knockouts (UNPAK) and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Education Alliance-Phages Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) projects.
The Biology Department was recently honored to welcome Dr. Lucia Barker from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to campus for a site visit as part of Hampden-Sydney’s participation in the Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) project. The visit gave Dr. Barker the opportunity to observe how the SEA-PHAGES project, in which ~80 schools nationwide isolate and characterize novel bacteriophage from the environment as part of ongoing research on bactteriophage diversity, has been implemented over the past two years at Hampden-Sydney.
Dr. Barker with SEA-PHAGES students James Hughes ’14, Branch Vincent ’16, Kris Miller ’13, and Francis Polakiewicz ’14
Myshake Abdi ’16 shows Dr. Barker his semester work on phage biology as part of the SEA-PHAGES project.
While at Hampden-Sydney, Dr. Barker also met with members of the Biology Department as well as President Chris Howard and Provost Dennis Stevens about strategies for further optimizing science education and research opportunity at Hampden-Sydney and how the HHMI could assist in this goal.
President Howard with Dr. Barker from HHMI
Three Hampden-Sydney biology students, Kris Miller ’13, James Hughes ’14, and Francis Polakiewicz ’14, recently attended the annual PhagePhest, a gathering of bacteriophage research groups from across Virginia that participate in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) program. Delegations from Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia Commonwealth University, Thomas Nelson Community College, James Madison University, and the University of Mary Washington gathered in Williamsburg at the College of William and Mary for the event.
Miller, Polakiewicz, and Hughes on the William and Mary campus
Kris Miller gave the Hampden-Sydney PhagePhest presentation on his research into devising a quick and efficient method to classify newly-identified bacteriophage using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a selective DNA amplification technique. This project, along with work by Polakiewicz and Hughes to analyze the gene content of a bacteriophage isolated on the H-SC campus by Drew Whitt ’12 named Cheetobro, contributes to the overall SEA-PHAGES mission of bringing collaborative research experiences to undergraduates at all varieties of American colleges and universities. Hampden-Sydney is one of ~80 colleges and universities across the nation that are members of the SEA-PHAGES network.
Kris Miller presents his research
As fate would have it, PhagePhest ’13 coincided with Spring Blowout ’13 at William and Mary, providing meeting participants the opportunity between presentations to join the William and Mary community on their iconic Sunken Garden to help celebrate the end of the semester.
Scientists at play