The first two weeks of November saw an unprecedented period of travel activity for the faculty and students of the Hampden-Sydney Biology Department. Over this period, H-SC biologists attended six regional and national scientific conferences all across the United States and presented the research work they have been doing over the summer as well as the academic year:
–American Society for Microbiology Virginia Branch Meeting, Roanoke, VA
At this meeting, Brant Boucher ’17 and James Lau ’17 presented the work they have been doing with Dr. Kristian Hargadon.
Brant Boucher’ 17 with his research poster
James has been investigating how the FOXC2 transcription factor regulates the progression of melanoma by comparing gene and protein expression profiles of a wild-type murine melanoma and an engineered variant of this melanoma in which the FOXC2 gene has been rendered dysfunctional by CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. Based on the Hargadon lab’s evidence that FOXC2 is critical for promoting melanoma progression, Brant worked with Dr. Hargadon over the summer to develop a tissue-specific gene silencing approach to knock down FOXC2 gene expression specifically in melanoma cells.
James Lau ’17 presents his research poster
At this same meeting, Dr. Michael Wolyniak presented the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning keynote address on the development of teaching mentorship networks across the Commonwealth.
American Association of Colleges and Universities STEM Conference, Boston, MA
Dr. Wolyniak presented the same project from the Roanoke meeting at this national gathering of STEM educators in Boston and also participated in a panel discussion about the Project Kaleidoscope Summer Leadership Institute for STEM Faculty, a program in which he participated in the summer of 2013 at the Baca Campus of Colorado College. Dr. Nicholas Deifel of the Department of Chemistry also attended this meeting.
Southeastern Medical Scientist Symposium, Birmingham, AL
This meeting was a regional gathering of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows from the Southeast to share research projects and learn about career opportunities in the biomedical sciences. William Echols ’17, Thomas Vinyard ’17, and Tyler Reekes ’17 presented their work done with Dr. Erin Clabough’s Neuroscience class that has led to a published paper on fetal alcohol syndrome.
Thomas Vinyard ’17, Tyler Reekes ’17, and William Echols ’17 with their research poster
Luke Bloodworth ’18 also presented his research based on a Hampden-Sydney- supported summer experience at the University of Alabama-Birmingham based on the development of an effective strategy for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in zebrafish.
Luke Bloodworth ’18 (right) with Drew Bonner, a student at Auburn University, and Dr. Anil Challa of the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine
Sigma Xi Student Research Conference, Atlanta, GA
Dakota Reinartz ’18, Traylor Nichols ’17, Joey Tyler, ’17, and David Bushhouse ’19 were accompanied by Dr. Rachel Goodman to the annual national gathering of the Sigma Xi society for scientific research. This meeting brings together undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows from across the sciences in a celebration of the scientific research enterprise. Traylor won the Best Poster award for the Environmental Science section of the meeting for his work on developing optimal hops growing practices.
Traylor Nichols ’17
Dakota presented research on the development of growth techniques for ramps, a type of wild onion native to Virginia, while Joey presented work preformed with Dr. Goodman on the spread of ranavirus among central Virginia reptiles and David presented his work on the isolation and characterization of a novel bacteriophage, named Thespis, found on the H-SC campus.
Dakota Reinartz ’18
Joey Tyler ’17
David Bushhouse ’19
Society for Neuroscience Meeting, San Diego, CA
Tyler Reekes ’17 and Jamie Ingersoll ’18 presented research posters at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego along with Dr. Erin Clabough. Both students gave poster presentations during the undergraduate session (sponsored by Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience) and also presented their work in the general poster symposium session alongside experts in their field.
Jamie Ingersoll ’18, Dr. Erin Clabough, and Tyler Reekes ’17 with their research posters in San Diego
Jamie’s research exploring the way that developmental exposure to ethanol can alter neuroarchitecture in the striatum was presented in the Dendritic Branching poster session, while Tyler presented experimental results from the Spring 2016 H-SC upper level Vertebrate Physiology class showing the long-term effect of fetal alcohol on adult behavior in mice. Dr. Clabough also presented a poster that included Myshake Abdi 16′ as a co-author. Society for Neuroscience Meeting is attended by over 30,000 scientists annually.
A lighter moment at the meeting…..
Sitka Whalefest, Sitka, AK
Dr. Alex Werth was a featured speaker at the 20th anniversary Sitka Whale Fest in Alaska, which brings whale researchers and fans from all over the world to learn the latest science and observe whales in their native habitat.
Whale sightings off the Alaska coast
The NSF-funded program emphasizes communication with non-scientists. In addition to giving a formal talk, Werth served as a naturalist onboard whale watching cruises and spoke with several groups of college and secondary students plus teachers and the general public. Many groups of feeding whales were seen, along with seals, sea lions, sea otters, and other marine life.
The Hampden-Sydney Biology Department prides itself with providing opportunities for students to work closely with their professors on original research activity. These meetings provide the opportunity for students to share their work on a regional or national stage and gain valuable scientific communication experience as they hone their career interests.