Spring BIO 199 Research

  • Academic Living & Learning Success Coordinator
111 Patterson Hall
(859) 257-9252

Freshmen STEM Research

STEMCats is supported by the College of Arts & Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Physics & Astronomy, Psychology and Statistics), Pharmaceutical Sciences, Physiology, Molecular & Biomedical Pharmacology and the Division of Natural Sciences at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Faculties from these disciplines are excited about participating in freshman hands-on research and workshop courses and other events.

Spring Semester

The second one-credit hour course will give you early exposure to research.  Students will learn from authentic research in this first year course.  Students will meet twice a week in a laboratory which is mentored by one or several faculty members.  All students will be required to do research projects. 

Components of the Course, Class Times and Location:

1.   Laboratory Research Sessions: Dependent upon the project selected by student. For times and locations of all projects, please see section below

2.   Research Forum: Poster presentation at the UK Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars at Student Center Ballrooms followed by STEMCats certificate award ceremony at a location to be determined.



Research Projects for Spring 2017 [Project descriptions are below the table]

Lab Course Descriptions







BIO 199-073/074


How to Make Big Sperm

Dr. Douglas Harrison &                      

Dr. Peter Mirabito                     

1:00 pm – 3:30 pm

THM 300E

BIO 199-075/076


How to Make Big Sperm

Dr. Douglas Harrison &                      

 Dr. Peter Mirabito                    

2:00 pm-4:30 pm

THM 300E

BIO 199-077/078


Neuroplasticity in Drug and Alcohol Use

Dr. Mark Prendergast                 

11:00 am – 12:15 pm


BIO 199-079/080


The Acclimating Leaf

Dr. Nicholas McLetchie

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm               

MDR #3, Room 102

BIO 199-081/082


How Do Small Molecules Interact with DNA?

Dr. Stephen Testa

11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Chem-Phys 309

BIO 199-083/84


Analysis of Gene Expression During Salamander Tail Regeneration

Dr. Randal Voss


THM 211

BIO 199-085/086


Human Circadian Rhythms: Clocks, College, and Consequences

Dr. Julie Pendergast

12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

THM 109

BIO 199-087/088


Molecular and Genetic Analysis of Microbial Defense in Plants

Dr. Aadra Kachroo &

Dr. Pradeep Kachroo

1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

109 Plant Science Building







BIO 199-091/092


The Dangerous Confluence of Honey Bees, Pesticides, and Honey

Dr. David Atwood

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Chem-Phys 243

BIO 199-093/094


Mate Choice, Advertisement and Fertility in Women

Dr. Phil Crowley &

Kaylynne Glover

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

JSB 357

BIO 199-095/096


Regulating the Sex Lethal Gene

Dr. Rebecca Kellum


THM 300E

BIO 199-097/098


Altering Cell Death Programs of Cancer Cells

Dr. Ed Rucker


THM 313

BIO 199-099/100


Sperm Depletion and Mate Choice

Dr. Kay Shenoy

9:30 am – 12:20 pm

MDS 155 A

BIO 199-101/102

M 10-12

W 11-12

Do Personal Care Products Act Like Hormones?

Dr. Hollie Swanson &

Dr. Ok-Kyong Sarge

M-10-12 and


MN 242

BIO 199-103/104


Ecophysiology of Crayfish

Dr. Melody Danley

9:00 am – 11:50 pm

JSB 104

BIO 199-105/106


Searching for Circadian Clock Mutants in a Gastrointestinal Bacterial Commensal

Dr. Vincent Cassone &

Jiffin Paulose

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

THM 302

BIO 199-107/108


Introduction to Milk Quality and On-Farm Culturing with Dairy Cows

Dr. Jeffrey Bewley &

Amanda Lee                                                 

2:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Garr 106

BIO 199- 109/110


Larval Developmental Studies in Cardiac Function, Growth and Innate Behaviors

Dr. Robin Cooper

5:30 to 8:00 pm

MDS 155B

BIO 199- 111/112


Neurophysiology- Synaptic Transmission

Dr. Robin Cooper

5:30 pm- 8:00 pm

MDS 155B

BIO 199- 113/114


Distance Mentoring through Multi-Media

Dr. Robin Cooper

2:00pm- 3:00 pm + time outside of class for blogging

MDS 115B

BIO-199 117/118


Human Behavioral Neuroscience Research Experience for STEMCats


Dr. Yang Jiang


1pm - 2:50pm

Med Behavioral Science Bldg 132


*odd numbered courses are regular and even numbered courses are honors


Lab Course Descriptions

BIO 199-073,074,075,076             Dr. Douglas Harrison & Dr. Peter Mirabito, How to Make Big Sperm: The world record for sperm size relative to adult body size is held by the most unassuming of organisms: the fruit fly.  How do they do that?  Help us answer this question by testing the role of a set of genes that have been hypothesized to be important for sperm development (spermatogenesis) in D. melanogaster.  You will use transgenic fruit flies that allow you to disrupt the function of individual genes and then determine the effect of gene function disruption on spermatogenesis.  Because the process of spermatogenesis in similar across species, your work will not only help us understand the genetics of huge sperm development in fruit flies, but it will also contribute to our understanding of spermatogenesis in general.

BIO 199-077,078              Dr. Mark Prendergast, Neuroplasticity in Drug and Alcohol Use:  The purpose of this course is to provide an examination of the causes and consequences of recreational drug and alcohol use from a biological perspective. Special attention will be paid to the interaction between genetic inheritance, individual experience, and physiological state.

BIO 199-079,080              Dr. Nicholas McLetchie, The Acclimating Leaf: The leaf is the primary organ contributing to global terrestrial productivity, removal of carbon dioxide from the air, and production of the oxygen we breathe.  Further the relationships between plants and microbes are ubiquitous and influential.  Microbes are known to influence plant health, productivity, and persistence. We have two possible projects. 1) Examine how leaves can alter their physical and chemical characteristics (shape, thickness, cell structure, pigments, etc.) across variation in external stimuli (light, relative humidity, temperatures, air movement) occurring at the scale of the leaf.  Changes in leaf characteristics affect the level of photosynthesis at the leaf level and eventually scale up to the whole plant and ecosystem levels.  This project will investigate changes that occur among and within leaves of the same plant.  Students will focus on a particular stimulus, design the experimental setup to manipulate the stimulus at the level of the leaf, and test a leaf’s relevant responses to this stimulus. 2) Characterize the bacterial microbiome of photosynthetic tissue of phylogenetically diverse plants collected from two different tropical habitats, and test for patterns of community diversity and composition. Students will be trained in molecular techniques (DNA extraction and PCR amplification) as well as bioinformatics analysis of the bacterial 16s rRNA sequence data.

 BIO 199-081,082             Dr. Stephen Testa How Do Small Molecules Interact with DNA: Many small molecules bind DNA, including various toxins and therapeutics. An important step in the process of understanding how these molecules function is to determine how they bind to DNA. Possibilities include their binding specifically to DNA sequences and/or DNA structures, as well as nonspecific binding to the DNA double helix structure. In my lab, we utilize temperature-dependent UV-Vis spectroscopy in order to obtain this type of information. The research project this year is for students to analyze how tightly a particular small molecule binds to DNA. The small molecule could be a therapeutic, a toxin, or any other molecule that the students choose. During the course of this project, the students will learn how DNA forms local structures and how molecules bind to these structures. In addition, the students will get hands-on experience working with small molecules, DNAs, and spectroscopy.

BIO 199-083,084              Dr. Randal Voss Analysis of Gene Expression During Salamander Tail Regeneration:  Salamanders are remarkable in their ability to regenerate damaged or missing body parts, including limbs and tail. Students will perform tail amputation surgeries on axolotl embryos and then rear these in the presence or absence of a chemical that is known to inhibit the function of a specific molecular signaling pathway. After the class establishes that the chemical alters tail regeneration, the tail amputation experiment will be repeated and regenerating tissue collected for RNA isolation and gene expression analysis. The data from the gene expression analysis will be used to identify when and where the targeted molecular signaling pathway functions during regeneration, and to identify down-stream gene expression targets. Overall, the exercise will introduce students to experimental approaches and data analysis techniques that are currently being used to resolve the molecular basis of tissue regeneration.

BIO 199-085,086              Dr. Julie Pendergast Human Circadian Rhythms: Clocks, College, and Consequences: Have you ever wondered why you are so sleepy for your 8am class? Or why you are starving at noon? Your daily, or circadian, rhythms are controlled by a network of clocks in your body. In this course, we will explore non-invasive methods for measuring human circadian rhythms of physiology and behavior. As a group we will develop a research question to elucidate factors that impact your circadian rhythms. We will then perform the experiment (on ourselves!) and analyze the rhythmic data.

BIO 199-087,088              Dr. Aadra Kachroo & Dr. Pradeep Kachroo Molecular and Genetic Analysis of Microbial Defense in Plants: Students will learn to extract plant DNA and RNA, conduct PCR analysis and pathogenicity tests on wild type and mutant lines and learn to relate plant genotype with disease phenotype. Students will also have the opportunity to observe how analytical methods such as liquid/gas chromatography are used to detect plant metabolites that are important for plant defense to microbes.


BIO 199-091,092              Dr. David Atwood The Dangerous Confluence of Honey Bees, Pesticides, and Honey: Bees produce three biological products, honey, beeswax, and propolis that have nutritional and cosmetic value to humans. As pollinators, honey bees are the foundation of global agriculture. Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are commonly used in agricultural production. These products kill bacteria, fungi, and unwanted pests, but can have harmful biological effects. Bees can internalize pesticides during pollen and nectar collection and transfer pesticide-related chemicals into honey, beeswax, and propolis in the hive. Bees. The confluence of bees, honey, and pesticides has significant detrimental outcomes, from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) to human pesticide consumption. Despite the immediacy and importance of the bee-honey-pesticide relationship there has been a surprisingly modest scientific and public response. This research project will develop methods for detecting pesticides in commercially available honey. With new knowledge of pesticide levels in honey, students in this course will develop a plan for continuing research and public education on the problem of pesticides in honey.     

BIO 199-093,094              Dr. Phil Crowley & Kaylynne Glover Mate Choice, Advertisement and Fertility in Women:  A woman’s behavior changes in response to hormonal fluctuations that control fertility. When fertile, women smell better, have “sexy” voices, and are more competitive with other women. They have increased sex drives, are flirtier, and tend to dress more provocatively. They also rate themselves as more attractive and show more interest in social gatherings and sexual interest in new men. Exotic dancers have been shown to make significantly more money when they are fertile than when they aren’t.
In this course, we will begin with a comparative overview of mate choice and mate signaling across organisms, specifically behaviors associated with estrus and fertility. In turning attention to our main study organism, humans, we will consider the ways that a woman’s behavior changes as an indication of sexual advertisement as well as the non-fertility related sexual motivations.

BIO 199-095,096              TBD Regulating Sex Lethal Gene: Students will use Green Fluorescent Protein tagging of the transcriptional promoter of the master sex-determining gene of Drosophila, Sex lethal.  Embryos of the appropriate age will be collected and monitored for GFP expression by fluorescence microscopy.

BIO 199-097,098              Dr. Ed Rucker Altering Cell Death Programs of Cancer Cells: Cancer cells have developed mechanisms to avoid undergoing cell death, and are thus more resistant to chemotherapy and radiation than normal cells. Using recombinant DNA techniques, students will generate and characterize genetically modified cancer cells that have altered cell death genes, with the goal of making them more vulnerable to chemical-based therapies. During this process, students will gain hands-on experience with DNA cloning and cell culture methodologies, as well as an introduction to the literature in the field of cancer biology.

 BIO 199-099,100             Dr. Kay Shenoy Sperm-depletion and Mate Choice: How do animals choose mates? Specifically, how do females choose mates? Can she tell is he is sperm depleted? Does she know that she would be wasting her time mating with a sperm-depleted male? These are some questions students will address using guppies, a small tropical fish. Students will learn to design experiments to test specific hypotheses. Through this project, students will understand how to interpret animal behaviors, and how to unambiguously score and quantify different behaviors. Students will gain a strong understanding of evolutionary reasons for different behaviors, ecological context for different behaviors, and the fitness costs and benefits of different behaviors. In addition to understanding the science behind sexual behaviors in animals, students will also gain an insight into the administrative pre-requisites and protocols for working with vertebrate animals, which is important for understanding the ethical responsibilities required of a scientist.

 BIO 199-101,102             Dr. Hollie Swanson & Dr. Ok-Kyong Sarge Do Personal Care Products Act like Hormones?: The overall goal of this project is to help students understand how hormones impact our bodies and how these actions can be altered by different chemicals. Through literature research, students will initially understand the role of endogenous hormones and the pharmacological strategies to inhibit hormones like estrogen.  Students will also learn exposure to other chemicals that may act like estrogens may impact our bodies.  We will screen personal care products, like sunscreen, to determine whether they may have estrogenic activities.  The central theme of this project being on possible hormonal activities of consumer products, students will then be guided to work as a team, developing a hypothesis, identifying methods to be used for testing the hypothesis and understanding the limitations and potential implications of their work.  Working in teams of 2-3, the students will examine the ability of different personal care products to act like estrogens.   The faculty members will guide the students in choosing the best approach to be used for analyzing the effects of these different products.  It is anticipated that the students will choose a bioassay that is well established, sensitive, reliable and amenable to screening the ability of chemical compounds to activate estrogen receptors. Through these laboratory exercises, the students will learn basic pharmacological concepts such as dose-response relationships, drug specificity and relative potency.  With the aid of participating faculty members, students will complete the final report and will present their findings to the research community.

BIO 199-103,104              Dr. Melody Danley Ecophysiology of Crayfish: Red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) is known as a secondary burrower, building vertical tunnels down into the substrate to escape desiccation during the dry season. Although research is lacking, reports have indicated researchers found female crayfish in the field that were incubating eggs or living together with newly hatched young in the burrow.  Thus, it is generally assumed that when in burrows, newly hatched crayfish exist in burrows with the mother.  Currently, little is known about the burrowing behavior of juvenile crayfish when the mother crayfish is not present. The purpose of this research experience is to investigate the burrowing behaviors of isolated juvenile crayfish. 

BIO 199-105,106              Dr. Vincent Cassone & Jiffin Paulose Searching for Circadian Clock Mutants in a Gastrointestinal Bacterial Commensal: Our lab has discovered a bacterium from the human gastrointestinal system that possesses its own circadian clock. This clock synchronizes to changes in our body temperature and secretion of at least one hormone. We know that circadian clocks are genetically based, so we will create mutations in the bacteria using ultraviolet light and/or certain mutagenic chemicals. The lab class will screen these mutants for mutant phenotypes using a sophisticated imaging system. Mutants will then be characterized by the class.

BIO 199- 117,118 Dr. Yang Jiang Human Behavioral Neuroscience Research Experience for STEMCats. The project is designed for students who are interested in research on neural basis of human behavior.  Students will learn behavioral neuroscience approaches through hands-on laboratory experience (e.g. recording brain activity using wireless EEG headsets). Students will be involved in investigation of neural mechanisms underlying alterations of human cognition, affect, or motivation.


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