Biology Scholar Communities
Summer Scholars 2013
The College of Arts and Sciences’ Summer Scholar Communities hosted a poster session on August 30th in the Hitch Science Building for students and faculty to showcase their work.
Dr. Darlene Panvini mentored a group of Biology and Environmental Science majors investigating the "Impact of Exotic Plants on Abundance, Diversity, and Distribution of Earthworms". The students participating were Sarah Gilmore (Environmental Science), Kari Morse (Biology) and Megan Swaine (Environmental Science). Little is known about the occurrence of earthworms in areas invaded by exotic plants, though the "biomass of invasive shrubs has been associated with biomass of exotic earthworms in eastern North America" (EREN proposal). Earthworms play a crucial role in decomposition of leaf litter and the regeneration of carbon in the carbon cycle. The presence or absence of earthworms can affect nutrient cycling and levels of biodiversity in ecosystems. In some instances, the presence of exotic earthworms has contributed to the loss of rare plant species and reduced seedling survival. Humans are the major vectors for earthworms; earthworm, exotic plant, and human movement "have been associated with land-use patterns, disturbance, and deer herbivory" (EREN proposal). Not clear, however, is the impact of invasive shrubs on earthworm diversity or the vice versa effect.
Dr. John Niedzwiecki mentored a group of Biology and Environmental Science majors including Court Reese, Valini Ramcharan and Kyle Sullinger (all Biology) along with Hannah Martin (Environmental Science). Court worked to determine the relationship between two populations of salamanders by comparing mitochondrial DNA. Valini and Kyle studied the effects of size and predator cues on snail behavior. Hannah's project used Geographic Information System (GIS) to collect data about local environments.
Dr. Lori McGrew had a group of Biology majors who worked with Danio rerio (zebra fish) to explore the effect of different compounds on memory and anxiety in the fish. Two students, Allison McCoy and Jen Myer, used antidepressants to treat the fish and then measured the effect on the fish's working memory. Katie Farrell tested the homeopathic compound, Bacopa, to determine whether this herbal supplement had an effect on working memory or anxiety in zebra fish. Finally, Jordan Gann measured anxiety in zebra fish following their exposure to the pesticide glyphosate.The Summer Scholar Communities program blends the structure of a summer session class with the format of a research team focused on a faculty-designed research project. Students spend 16-18 hours per week for eight to ten weeks on a research project, working with several other students and faculty mentors. The Summer Scholar Communities Program differs from traditional undergraduate research in that students and faculty from various disciplines across the College of Arts and Sciences meet regularly over the course of the summer to share results, to learn from each other, to present their research findings and discuss challenges and commonalities. The students will present their findings at Belmont’s Science Undergraduate Research Symposium (SURS) this fall.
Dr. Nick Ragsdale worked with five students this summer. Liberty Foye, Anderson Webb, Brad Gill and Scott Kim all continued the investigation of innate immunity utilizing the animal model of Caenorhabditis elegans. Rachel Garland continued work on the role of oxidants in the formation of Parkinson's like disease.
Dr. Darlene Panvini worked with six students. Jessica Braden, Emma Ghulam Jan, and Anna Witherspoon compared rates of photosynthesis and stomatal density in leaves of exotic vines (Lonicera japonica and Euonymus fortunei) to native vines (Parthenocissus quinoquefolia and Smilax rotundifoli). They collected leaves and made impressions in the lab to determine stomatal densities. Sylvia Alsup, Lida Ghulam Jan, and Lauren Land compared macroinvertebrate diversity in riffles and pools in areas of the Little Harpeth River covered by tree canopy and areas not covered by tree canopy.
Dr. John Niedzwiecki's group of six students worked with behavioral and population biology questions in a variety of aquatic organisms. Bellamy Hawkins and Breanna Poore worked on chemical detection of predation cues in an aquatic snail. Building on recent work in animal behavior, Parth Majmudar looked for signs of "intelligence" in Orconectes crayfish – a predator of snails. Rachel Chandler followed up on work from past years and studied the specificity and nature of the chemical cue that streamside salamander's use to detect fish predators. She was able to present that work as a poster at the International Evolutionary Biology conference in Ottawa, Canada this past summer with Dr. Niedzwiecki. Janet Steen and Amy Nesius, working in molecular and population genetics, successfully developed microsatellites for use in Spotted salamanders.
McGrew Zebrafish Group: Alesya Borisyuk, Tristan Daniel, and Vishan Ramcharan
Niedzwiecki Behavioral Ecology of Snails Group: Abader Almosawi and Kelsey Grant
Ragsdale C. elegans Group: Samera Berhane, Sylvia Chac, and Roxie Musharrafeia
Murphree Medical Entomology Group: RaeAnne Lauffer, Rachel Serfass, Libby Thorndike, and Ryan Baker
McGrew Zebrafish Group: Taylor Andrews, Steven Avers, Taylor Beazley, and Katy Parsley
Niedzwiecki Behavioral Ecology Group: Caleb Binkley, Amy Fehrman, Mark McFarland, and Ati Osinusi
McGrew Zebrafish Group: Kelli Boone, Abby Murphy, Bao Nguyen, Ola Osinusi, and Alyson Singh
Niedzwiecki Salamander Group: Sara Bentley, Kendra Cowan, Chris Pilny, and Beth Schriner
Grammer Insulting C. elegans through Chemicals and Pathogens Group: Sachin Amin and Christina Inman
McGrew Zebrafish and Learning Group: Jeanna Bardin, Jackie Hunter, Roshni Patel, and Taylor Walter
Murphree Conenose Bug Group: Dana Halchak and Ludia Kim
Niedzwiecki Behavior and Ecology of the Streamside Salamander Group: Will Baugher, Ginna Beazley, and Lauren Oeser
Ragsdale Worms in Our Community Group: Josh Cortopassi, Cy Eaton, Robbie Gibson, and Brittany Myers
McGrew Zebrafish and Behavior Group: Adam Gilliland, Michelle Howell, Becky Repasky, and Jelena Stupar
Ragsdale C. elegans as a Model Organism for Studying Biology Group: Stephen May, Chelsea Wilson, and Bethany Woodard
Grammer Chemotaxis Group: Ananta Bhatt
McGrew Worm Brain Consortium Group: Stacey Apple, Adam Militana, Becky Repasky, Trisha Siewnarine, and Corey Winfree
Panvini Biology and Ecology of Exotics Group: Neely Osteen, Amanda Simpson, and Rejana Wells
Ragsdale Worm Group: Kelly Deweese, Ashley Dozier, Michel Mosby, and Kristen Sorensen
Grammer, McGrew, and Ragsdale Worm Brain Consortium: Jimmy Berthaud, Tuyen Bui, Trisha Siewarine, Kelly Deweese, Ashley Dozier, Ricky Patel and Meg Voss
Panvini Biology and Ecology of Exotics Group: Lee Griggs, Amanda Stinnett, and Rejana Wells
Panvini Exotic Plants Group: Kristin Furman, Alex Grzeszczak, and Jenny Pollard
Ragsdale Worm Group: Scott Russell