Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Using zebrafish to study the expression of genes involved in human disease

Amy Drossman
The beginning of the Fall semester has slowed our news updates.  And while our summer research program has ended, students are back in lab continuing with projects started over the summer months.  Biology major Amy Drossman is continuing with her honors thesis project on the expression of the vertebrate stress protein alpha B-crystallin.

Alpha Bb-crystallin is a protein that is found throughout many different tissues within the body and is known to be involved in fiber cell differentiation in the lens. It also plays a protective role in demyelinating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and when malfunctioning is known to be involved in several different cancers. It is important to understand what is regulating the expression of alpha Bb-crystallin in order to find treatments and cures for the diseases it is known to be involved in.  Alpha Bb-crystallin is located in a head-to-head manner with another gene within the zebrafish genome and my focus is on the 6,000 base pair (6kb) promoter region between these two genes that is known to regulate expression and function in both. In order to determine what portions of the 6kb region are involved in regulating when and where alpha Bb-crystallin is expressed, serial truncations are carried out in order to amplify only a certain region of the entire promoter. These portions (1kb, 2kb, 3kb, 4kb, and 5kb) can then be attached to a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene and injected into zebrafish embryos. When visualized under a fluorescent microscope, the fish will glow green in regions where the portion of the promoter is regulating gene expression. A similar promoter region for alpha B-crystallin is found in mammals, making zebrafish a model organism for this study. Since the zebrafish embryo is transparent, changes in expression can be easily visualized in the living embryo whereas in a mammalian organism, the embryo has to be sacrificed in order to visualize expression since the embryo is not transparent.
- Amy Drossman

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Current student and two alumni present research findings at the 2010 meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Pt. 2

One current student and two alumni presented their research findings at the 2010 meeting of the Ecological Society of America, held August 1-6 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Brady Hardiman (AU’03, Biology, top photo) is now a Ph.D. student at The Ohio State University, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. Brady presented some results of his research into the factors controlling growth and yield of forest trees in the upper Midwest. He is trying to understand what happens as forests age and species composition changes.

Brad Pickens
(AU’00, Environmental Science/Biology, bottom photo) is currently a Ph.D. student at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. Brad presented some of his work on a habitat-mapping project for birds that depend on Louisiana and Texas coastal marshes. This work will contribute to pending management plans in agricultural areas of that region. Brad obtained an M.S. in Biological Science from Bowling Green State University in 2006. Brad has extensive experience with environmental/outdoor education and he has contributed to numerous research projects studying how species respond to management.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Toxicology Alum Pursues Graduate Study in Epidemiology

Tricia Matz, a 2010 Toxicology graduate, has been accepted into the Ohio State University graduate program in public health. She plans to complete a masters of public health degree with a focus on epidemiology. Tricia hopes to eventually work as an epidemiologist particularly focusing on areas where the environment may be polluted with disease causing contaminants.

During her time at Ashland, Tricia conducted research with Profs. Jeff Weidenhamer and Brian Mohney on analytical methods for compounds secreted by plant roots, and presented a poster on her work at the 2009 meeting of the Phytochemical Society of North America and was co-author of a paper featured on the cover of the Nov. 2009 Journal of Chemical Ecology. She was one of two recipients of the Biology Department's senior research award.

Current student and two alumni present research findings at the 2010 meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Pt. 1

One current student and two alumni presented their research findings at the 2010 meeting of the Ecological Society of America, held August 1-6 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Rachel Day (AU'11, Biology, center of picture) presented her work on a new method for improving the visibility of a group of very small aquatic crustaceans. The overall goal of this part of the project is to be able to study the movement of these animals in response to chemical signals in tank experiments. The method is being developed in collaboration with AU biology and environmental science faculty, Dr. Andrew Greene and Dr. Patty Saunders, who were co-authors on the presentation. In addition to her studies and directed research project, Rachel is the 2010-2011 President of AU's biology honorary (Beta Beta Beta).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Environmental Science Major Awarded Competitive Scholarship by Ohio Academy of Science

Karie Charlton (AU'11) is an Environmental Science/Biology double major. She has just been awarded a $3,350 Environmental Science and Engineering Scholarship for her senior year by the Ohio Academy of Science.

"I still can't believe I actually got that call!" says Karie. She is one of 16 students in the state to be awarded this scholarship in 2010. Karie plans to work in interpretation as a naturalist or park ranger.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Ashland Biology alumni pursue careers in anesthesiology

We have posted a number of stories this summer on our undergraduate research students and their projects. There is still more summer student research news to post, but in the following weeks we plan to give some updates on what our science alumni are doing.  A number of our science alumni have gone on to careers in medicine, and two recent Biology graduates in particular are starting careers in anesthesiology.

Will Finn '09
Will Finn '09 will be working as an anesthesia technician at the Cleveland Clinic for a few months before entering the Master of Science in Anesthesia program at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.  After this two-year program Will will be certified as an Anesthesiologist Assistant and will work with Anesthesiologists and other AAs in administering anesthesia to patients in the operating room.

Mike Danko '04
Mike Danko '04 completed his MD at the Ohio State University and is currently a second year resident in Anesthesiology at the University of Cincinnati.

Check back for more news about AU science alumni.