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Bryn Mawr Biology Student Summer Research Experiences

Student News Summer 2013

Bryn Mawr Biology majors are having an exciting summer, working at variety of jobs on campus, off campus, and out of the country!  Here is a sampling of how some of our students are spending their summers...

Jessica Arbon (BMC ’14)… is spending her summer on campus, doing research in the lab of Dr. Tamara Davis. Jessica’s research is a continuation of a larger project that has involved looking at the DNA methylation patterns throughout different developmental stages in the Dlk1-Gtl2 imprinting cluster region in mouse. This region contains numerous imprinted genes as well as 3 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) including the Dlk1-DMR, Gtl2-DMR and IG-DMR. Jessica is analyzing the methylation pattern at the Dlk1-DMR for both maternal and paternal alleles in 6.5 and 3.5 day embryos and will be comparing it to the Gtl2-DMR. The Dlk1 gene is involved in cell differentiation and is thought to also be a tumor suppressor.

Kaeun Bae (BMC ’15)… spent her summer working at a newly founded Korean Medical School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Kaeun has been helping develop an internal exam for incoming students to take as they apply to the school to make sure they have a certain degree of basic knowledge in Chemistry, Biology, Math, and a proficiency in English. She has also been working to develop a basic Biology curriculum for the first year students and looking for textbooks that the college can use for their courses. Kaeun says: “It's great being a part of the development of a college that will grow and benefit the medical field of this country!” While in Africa, Kaeun also had a chance to take a trip to Kenya, where she grew up.

Nicole Bowman (BMC ’14)… is working in the neuroscience lab of Dr. Teresa Reyes in the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania this summer. The Reyes lab studies how diet modulates epigenetic regulation of the dopamine and opioid systems.  Nicole’s project for the summer is to characterize DNA methyltransferase presence in relevant brain regions of mice born from mothers fed a high-fat diet during pregnancy. Nicole is also studying to take the GRE this fall. Nicole tells us that her research mentor has also asked for her assistance in writing a review article, and that she’s using the skills she picked up in class at Bryn Mawr to research the existing scientific literature.

Paige DeRosa (BMC ’14)…  is doing research on campus this summer, working in Dr. Tamara Davis’s lab on a project which will help us better understand the role of histone modifications in the regulation of imprinted gene expression. She is working to validate an assay that we have developed to study histone modifications by examining a well-characterized gene, H19. The assay consists of a procedure called chromatin immunoprecipitation (chIP) followed by allele-specific amplification of the DNA using quantitative PCR. H19 is an example of a maternally expressed imprinted gene in mouse that produces a non-coding RNA. At H19, expressed alleles have been found to have activating modifications and silent alleles typically have repressive modifications. After validating the assay, we plan to characterize the histone modifications on the paternally expressed gene Rasgrf1, which is imprinted in a tissue-specific manner in mouse.

Carolyne Face (BMC ’15)… is spending her summer working in the laboratory of Dr. Klaus Kaestner at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is studying the importance of DNA methylation in stem cell differentiation and cancer progression in the intestine. Carolyne tells us: “I'm really excited to be working on this research and I've already learned a lot of new, fascinating information!”

rachel at serc

Rachel Hager (BMC ’15)… has been keeping busy doing research in a biogeochemistry lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Maryland. Her research involves an investigation in global climate change, specifically rising CO2 in the air and rising N in the soil, and its impact on the genetic diversity and drift of Phragmites australis (the common reed). Rachel is also looking at the different growth rates and photosynthetic rates of the different genetic strains of Phragmites under global climate change conditions. You can see Rachel next to some of the experimental chambers in the field; there 12 chambers in total and three of each of the four different types of chambers: 1)ambient air, 2)elevated CO2 in the air, 3)added N to the soil 4) both elevated CO2 and added N.  Rachel tells us that she is also doing lots of cooking, baking, and outdoor activities like biking, running, swimming, and kayaking when she’s not in the lab or out in the field. 

Aimee Heerd (BMC ’14)… has spent her summer working in Dr. Tamara Davis’s lab at Bryn Mawr College, where she is collaborating with Paige DeRosa to improve an assay for the analysis of modified histones at imprinted genes. Results from this assay, omprised of chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) followed by quantitative PCR (qPCR), will be compared to data already published at the imprinted H19 gene for validation. Next, Aimee will be investigating the distribution of modified histones at Rasgrf1, a paternally methylated imprinted gene in mouse that has tissue-specific monoallelic expression.

Emily Maroni (BMC ’15)… is a double major in Biology & French. This summer she is studying abroad through Bryn Mawr College's Institut d'études françaises d'Avignon, in the city of Avignon in southern France.  In addition to the 2 courses Emily is taking for the program, she’s had the opportunity to take multiple trips to different cities & villages, beaches, theater shows, and also an upcoming wine tasting. Emily tells us: “I'm having a great time getting to know some new people from different schools, taking in the sights, culture (especially the huge annual theater festival), and of course the food, all while improving my French!”

Su Oner (BMC ’14)… is working with a non profit organization called Puentes de Salud this summer. This organization aims to provide healthcare to immigrants who cannot afford to have insurance and/or who cannot express their problems in English. Su is volunteering at their clinic, where she helps out in the lab to order tests. Sue tells us: “If I improve my Spanish, soon I might start taking vitals. I get to meet graduate students, doctors, social workers, so many different people that are all interested and invested in providing health care.” Su is also tutoring at their Summer Camp for Reading, where she works with a couple of 9 year old students each day and gets to lead group discussions. The discussions center on healthy foods, art, cities, animals and much more. Su indicates that she likes being fully involved in a non profit, helping out both the clinical and community programs.

Rebecca Reiss (BMC ’15)… spent part of her summer volunteering at Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary in Costa Rica. She got to work hands-on with baby wooly opossums, endangered turtles, a toucan, two porcupines, a parrot, two squirrels, and an abandoned baby howler monkey named Charlie. Although Costa Rica is certainly hot, and the jungle is definitely buggy, it was the experience of a lifetime. See picutres of Rebecca with a monkey & wooly opposum baby. pictureanother picture

Rachel Shields (BMC ’15)… began her summer on a medical mission trip to Guatemala, where she worked as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant in the Post-Operatory room.  She then returned to Bryn Mawr College’s campus in July to begin researching under Dr. Tamara Davis.  Rachel began working on a project that investigates the methylation patterns in a region upstream of a paternally expressed, imprinted gene, Rasgrf1, in mice.  She is looking to see how the methylation patterns in the upstream differentially methylated region (uDMR) of this gene change throughout the development of the mouse.  It has been shown for other genes that the differentially methylated region contracts during early development and then re-expands in a later embryonic stage.  However, the developmental stage at which the methylation in the Rasgrf1 uDMR expands again is not known.  Rachel hopes to compare methylation patterns of the Rasgrf1 uDMR in DNA from differently aged embryos in an attempt to determine at what developmental stage the re-expansion of this methylated region occurs.

Katia Vlasova (BMC ’15)… is working in the T. Davis lab at Bryn Mawr College looking at methylation patterns of a region upstream of Rasgrf1 in the liver, brain, lung and kidney of 5 day old mice. Rasgrf1 is a paternally methylated imprinted gene located on mouse chromosome 9. A differentially methylated region (DMR) is approximately 30 kb upstream of the gene’s promoter. Recent evidence has shown that the DMR may extend farther than previously believed. Katia is examining a region of the chromosome upstream of the original DMR, called uDMR2, to test this hypothesis.

Ivana Wang (BMC ’15)… is working on a pancreatic cancer project at the Fox Chase Cancer Center that involves working with five cell lines from pancreatic cancer patients. Her main project focuses on expressing the ERCC3 gene in bacteria. So far, Ivana has designed primers to amplify this gene so that it can be cloned into E. coli bacterial cells. Ultimately, this gene will be overexpressed in the bacteria with the goal of producing the protein crystal for use in future studies.

Kim Wiley (BMC ’15)… is doing ecology/evolutionary biology research this summer at the University of Michigan, where she is analyzing dental microwear patterns of a Bovid specimen from 11-14 million years ago and will compare the data to specimen from an earlier period to better understand if there was any change in dietary habits after the shift of C3 to C4 vegetation. She chose this project because she thinks it is interesting to see how changes in the environment influence change in animals over time. Kim tells us: “I am also interested in dentistry so analyzing teeth seems pretty cool to me.” Kim is also learning a lot about the geological and paleontological aspects to her project, and will be writing a formal paper & presenting her findings at the end of July. In addition to working in the lab 40 hours a week, Kim is running everyday to prepare for the cross-country preseason and exploring the area around Ann Arbor. A fun fact about Kim’s research mentor, Catherine Badgley, is that she went to Radcliffe College for her undergrad degree.

 

Students conducting research in the Bryn Mawr Biology Department include:

Sarah Ames (BMC '14) - Greif lab

Jessica Arbon (BMC '14) - T. Davis lab

Michelle Dearolf (BMC '13) - Brodfuehrer lab

Paige DeRosa (BMC '14) - T. Davis lab

Rachel Hager (BMC '15) - Mozdzer lab

Aimee Heerd (BMC '14) - T. Davis lab

Emily Lemieux (BMC '14) - G. Davis lab

Emily Mobus (BMC '14) - Brodfuehrer lab

Nawar Naseer (BMC '14) - Chander lab

Esha Ray (BMC '15) - Mozdzer lab

Rachel Shields (BMC '15) - T. Davis lab

Emily Spica (BMC '15) - G. Davis lab

Katia Vlasova (BMC '15) - T. Davis lab

Han Wang (BMC '15) - Chander lab

Tiannan Zhan (BMC '14) - Greif lab

Ariel Zhou (BMC '14) - G. Davis lab

 

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