On March 24, five Hampden-Sydney College and four Longwood University students were inducted into Sigma Xi, the international honorary scientific research society. Founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and to encourage collaboration among researchers in all fields of science and engineering, the Society now consists of over 500 chapters at academic, industrial, and government research institutions and has nearly 60,000 members in more than 100 countries around the world. The Longwood University/Hampden-Sydney College chapter of Sigma Xi was reactivated in 2013, and the two institutions now alternate hosting an annual Sigma Xi Research Symposium that features a keynote speaker and student poster presentations highlighting recent research activities on both campuses.
2015 Sigma Xi Initiates. From left to right: Back row – Stephen Woodall II, H-SC ’15; Bryan McQueen, LU ’15; Davis Carter, H-SC ’15. Middle row – Adam Lynch, LU ’16; Aaron Gilani, H-SC ’15; Brant Boucher, H-SC ’17; James Lau, H-SC ’17. Front row – Sara Jacobson, LU ’15; Kelsey Trace, LU ’15.
Six Hampden-Sydney College students were recently selected to participate in the newly established H-SC/Centra Pre-Health Rotational Shadowing Program. Benjamin Lam, Brant Boucher, DJ Bines, Jake Farrar, James Lau, and Robert Kerby will begin their rotations this semester and will have the option to continue their shadowing in the Fall 2015 semester as well. Through this program, these students will be exposed to various fields of medicine as they rotate through departments that include: Family Medicine, General Surgery, Cardiovascular Medicine, Emergency Medicine, the ICU, Gastrointestinal Medicine, OB/Gyn, Radiology, and Pharmacy. The shadowing experience afforded by this partnership will provide these students with valuable healthcare exposure hours that will increase awareness of potential career paths in healthcare and enhance preparation for graduate and professional programs in medicine and the health sciences. Together, these benefits will provide H-SC students with a competitive edge as applicants to medical and health professional schools.
The H-SC/Centra Pre-Health Rotational Shadowing Program will be ongoing, and applications will be solicited in the Fall 2015 semester for a new set of rotations to begin the following spring.
H-SC’s Spring 2015 participants in the Centra/H-SC Pre-Health Rotational Shadowing Program. Pictured left to right: Benjamin Lam ’17, Jake Farrar ’16, DJ Bines ’17, James Lau ’17, Brant Boucher’17, and Robert Kerby ’17
The Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), a coalition of undergraduate institutions started by Dr. Sally Elgin of Washington University in St. Louis for the purpose of bringing original and authentic research opportunities to all undergraduate students, has announced the acceptance of its latest peer-reviewed publication based on student work. The paper is found in the journal G3: Genes,Genomes, Genetics and has among its authors Greg Robertson ’12, former Hampden-Sydney student Samuel Smith, and Assistant Professor of Biology Mike Wolyniak. The paper, entitled “Drosophila
Muller F elements maintain a distinct set of genomic properties over 40 million years of evolution”, examines how study of the fruit fly genomes can reveal a great deal about how different species develop and evolve over time. Robertson, Smith, and Wolyniak examined individual sections of
genomic sequence from a bioinformatics perspective, annotating the sequence for coding sequence start and stop sites and well as splice sites.
The GEP is one of several initiatives available to Hampden-Sydney biology students as they learn how to conduct real science during their time in Gilmer Hall.
A link to the paper may be found at http://g3journal.org/content/early/2015/03/04/g3.114.015966.abstract
Throughout the Fall 2014 semester, the H-SC Molecular and Cellular Biology class worked to discover and characterize new phages that infect bacteria of the genus Bacillus
as part of their original research in conjunction with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) SEA-PHAGES project. As part of this project, representatives of the class travelled to the University of Mary Washington, a SEA-PHAGES collaborator, to get pictures of their phages on their electron microscope. The pictures provided the students invaluable insight on the nature of their new discoveries, which have been catalogued with the central SEA-PHAGES lab at the University of Pittsburgh as part of their ongoing work on viral evolution.
“BlakeE”, as discovered by Travis Goodloe ’16
“HSCtrl”, as discovered by Chris Ferrante ’15. Note the DNA spilling out from the capsid head of this sample.
Phage “Archie14″, as discovered by Stephen Woodall ’15, has been sequenced by the University of Pittsburgh and returned to H-SC for analysis. The next step in the research will be done by students interested in bioinformatics who will thoroughly examine Archie14′s genome for particular genetic features that make it unique from other phages. This project, along with projects in several other H-SC biology classes, is part of an effort in the department to make research a central part of the H-SC biology experience.
Three Hampden-Sydney biologists, Jay Brandt ’15, Chris Ferrante ’15, and Taylor Meinhardt ’16, accompanied Professor Mike Wolyniak to the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in Philadelphia. The ASCB Annual Meeting attracts roughly 8,000 scientists and exhibitors from around the world each December, including Nobel laureates and other top names in the field. Jay and Chris presented their joint project on peptide synthesis as a potential novel form of antibiotic. The research is both their Senior Fellowship project at H-SC and a semester-long classroom research opportunity in which Jay and Chris will work with Professor Wolyniak’s Genetics and Cell Biology class in the spring 2015 semester to collect and analyze data. First, Jay and Chris presented at the undergraduate poster session, featuring 150 different projects drawn across the full gamut of cell biology fields.
Chris Ferrante ’15 and Jay Brandt ’15 at the undergraduate poster presentation session
The site of the undergraduate poster presentation. The Atrium of the Pennsylvania Convention Center was once the trainshed for the Reading Railroad.
Jay and Chris gave their presentation again two days later at the general session alongside undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and career scientists:
Representing Hampden-Sydney at the general session
Professor Wolyniak gave a talk and a poster at the meeting about a new ASCB teaching mentorship program piloted at Hampden-Sydney last academic year which has potential to become a national model. The meeting also gave students like Taylor interested in a career in biological research the opportunity to attend sessions on how to get into graduate school and select a research lab as well as take in the research activities of leaders in cell biology related fields.
There was also time to take in Philadelphia:
The Liberty Bell with Independence Hall in the background
One of four eagles on the Market Street Bridge. Originally from Penn Station in New York City, 22 identical eagles still exist today, including the four on this bridge and one on the H-SC campus.
Taylor, Prof. Wolyniak, Chris, and Jay….brotherly love in the City of Brotherly Love
The Fall 2014 Molecular and Cellular Biology class at Hampden-Sydney has been an active participant in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute SEA-PHAGES program, isolating and characterizing viruses that infect Bacillus
bacteria as part of a nationwide project on viral evolution and genomics. As part of this class experience, 5 students from the class prepared research presentations for the James Madison University “Phage Phaire”, a gathering of research students from James Madison, Virginia Commonwealth University, Old Dominion University, the University of Mary Washington, and Hampden-Sydney. These 5 schools are part of the current 74-member nationwide HHMI SEA-PHAGES alliance and organize two research meetings per year to provide students with the chance to share their work with their peers.
Travis Goodloe ’16 presents his work on BlakeE, a phage of Bacillus cereus discovered on the H-SC campus.
Spencer Wiles ’15 presenting his work on Bacillus thuringiensis phage LargeMarge
Will Banning ’15 with his work on B. thuringiensis page Precious (co-doscovered with Mitch Cavallarin ’15)
Tucker Hudgins ’15 presenting phage TuckHudge to Phage Phaire keynote speaker Dr. Daniel Nelson of the University of Maryland-College Park
Dr. Lucia Barker of HHMI leans about phage Mavro from Corey Mavromatis ’16
Travis Goodloe ’16 received an award at the event for the best organized and designed poster from among all students, while Spencer Wiles ’15 received recognition for the meetings favorite phage name with “LargeMarge”. The class will continue to work on characterizing their phages as the semester draws to a close and genomic sequences from the collected phages will be analyzed by H-SC students via bioinformatics.
Team H-SC with Mr. Madison on the JMU campus
On November 13, the Longwood University/Hampden-Sydney College Chapter of Sigma Xi hosted the 2nd annual Sigma Xi Research Symposium. Sigma Xi is an honorary research society that promotes excellence in scientific investigation in all fields of the life and physical sciences. The Symposium was held at Longwood University’s Chichester Science Center and featured a keynote speaker and poster presentations by undergraduate students from both institutions. Dr. Pieter deHart, Assistant Professor of Biology at the Virginia Military Institute, delivered the Symposium’s keynote address entitled ““Feeding the Beast: Explorations into the Feeding Ecology of Apex Predators.” This engaging talk focused on work that Dr. deHart has conducted with several undergraduate students at VMI and included ecological studies on the feeding habits of a wide variety of predators, ranging from praying mantids to coyotes. Following his keynote address, Dr. deHart interacted with several students during the Symposium’s poster session, which featured research conducted by undergraduates at both Hampden-Sydney College and Longwood University. 12 H-SC students and 13 Longwood University students from the Departments of Biology and Chemistry presented their work, and this session provided an excellent opportunity for close interaction and sharing of ideas between students and faculty from both institutions. To follow up on the success of the Symposium, Hampden-Sydney College will host an initiation ceremony in Spring 2015 for the induction of new student and faculty members to the Society.
Keynote speaker Dr. Pieter deHart delivering his address to a full house!
Just a sample of predators studied by Dr. deHart and his collaborating students!
Longwood University student Jessica Littlefield presenting her research to Dr. deHart
Jefferson Thompson ’16 (middle) presenting his summer research on free readicals to Myshake Abdi ’16 and Wes Eure ’16
Jay Brandt ’15 presenting his research on immune responses to melanoma to James Lau’17
Stephen Woodall ’15 explaining his research on prostate cancer to Dr. Nick Deifel from the H-SC Chemistry Department
Daniel Osarfo-Akoto ’15 learning about NKG2D signaling in T cells from Longwood University student and tumor immunologist Kelsey Trace
Several Longwood students presenting research conducting through the University’s PRISM Summer Research Program
On November 7, 2014 Jay Brandt ’15 presented his summer research at the Virginia Branch Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology at James Madison University. Jay’s poster, entitled “Ex vivo
Analysis of the Impact of Melanoma-altered Dendritic Cells on CD8+ T Cell Differentiation,” was based on his work through the H-SC Honors Council’s Summer Research Program. Jay worked in collaboration with Elliott Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon ’01 and studied the effector cytokine production and cytolytic activity of CD8+ T cells stimulated by melanoma-altered dendritic cells. Jay will be attending Eastern Virginia Medical School following his graduation in 2015!
Jay Brandt ’15 presenting his poster!
The Biology Department was pleased to recently host Fr. Nicanor Austrico, Associate Professor of Biology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island and priest of the Dominican order of the Roman Catholic Church, to Hampden-Sydney. Fr. Austriaco visited classes in bioethics and molecular and cellular biology before delivering a public seminar entitled “What Human Genomics Can Tell Us About Adam and Eve: A Catholic Perspective”
Fr. Austriaco in H-SC’s bioethics freshman seminar
Fr. Austriaco runs an NIH-supported laboratory as Providence that focuses on mechanisms regulating cell suicide while also writing extensively on matters of science and faith. In his interactions with students, Fr. Austriaco discussed several current issues in bioethics from his unique perspective as both a scientist and a priest. Fr. Austriaco’s public seminar was part of the biology department’s Biology Colloquium series, where students, faculty, and outside guests present and discuss their research progress with the department’s students.
The department is pleased to announce the arrival of two new growth chambers to the department equipment collection. The chambers are the result of professor Mike Wolyniak’s National Science Foundation funding and provide precise environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, light intensity, etc.) for the growth and maintenance of plants.
The new growth chambers in their new home in Gilmer Hall
Chambers such as these are essential to conducting controlled plant experiments that can be used for student and faculty research. New plant-based experiments based on using the chambers are being planned for both spring 2015 coursework in the department and summer 2015 student/faculty research projects.