Skip to main content

Spring BIO 199 Research

The spring one-credit hour course, BIO 199, will give you early exposure to research.  Students will learn from authentic research in this first year course.  Students will meet in a laboratory which is mentored by one or several faculty members.  Students will have the opportunity to present their work at the UK Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars. All STEMCats students will be required to do research projects. 

Research Projects for Spring 2023  [Project descriptions are below the table]








Joao Costa


4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Room 400

WP Garrigus

Animal behavior and precision technologies: applied animal behavior and welfare science


Karla Lightfield 


1:00 PM - 2:50 PM

JSB 154

Antibiotic Discovery


Stephen (Randal) Voss 


5:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Analysis of Gene Expression During Salamander Tail Regeneration


Pradeep Kachroo

Aardra Kachroo


4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Plant Science Building 109

Molecular and Electrical Signaling in Plants


Vincent Cassone


5:00 PM

JSB 304

Bacterial Motility As Function Of Virulence


Robin Cooper


3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

MDS 155

Studying the effect of zinc on synaptic transmission and behavior


David Westneat


1:00 PM - 1:50 PM


Do parent birds disagree over how to care for their offspring?


Joseph Straley


2:00 PM - 4:50 PM


Solar Power and the Concept of Energy


Max Brown


12:00 PM

CP 192

Measuring Gravity


Christopher Crawford



CP 36

Nuclear Physics


Mariah Donohue




Parasites of the brown lemur gut

Lab Course Descriptions

BIO 199-004        Dr. Joao Costa, Animal behavior and precision technologies: applied animal behavior and welfare science; In this section of BIO 199, we will study how technologies can be used to measure dairy cattle behavior, physiology, milk production and milk components.  Many of these technologies work like FitBits for dairy cows.  Cow behavior, milk production, and milk components can allow us to assess the health and well-being of dairy cows. Precision technologies allow producers to monitor the behavioral activity and health status of cattle. The information gathered can be used by producers and researchers alike to make inferences on what underlying factors may be causing the behaviors in question. Students in this course will learn to design an experiment to test a specific hypothesis about dairy cattle behavior utilizing precision technology tools. Students will understand how precision technology is used to monitor the behavioral activity of dairy cattle and use the data collected to test their hypothesis. Overall, students will learn how to conduct a scientific experiment following protocols necessary for working with vertebrate animals, and ultimately understand the importance of ethical research conduct.

BIO 199-005        Dr. Karla Lightfield, Antibiotic Discovery;

BIO 199-006        Dr. Stephen (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 199-007        Dr. Pradeep Kachroo and Dr. Aardra Kachroo, Molecular and Electrical Signaling in Plants 

BIO 199-008        Dr. Vincent Cassone, Bacterial Motility As A Function Of Virulence; We have discovered a human gastrointestinal commensal bacterium that is sensitive to the hormone melatonin and that expresses a circadian rhythm in swarming behavior and gene expression. The circadian rhythm of this bacterium can be entrained to the very small, one degree fluctuations in body temperature and is synchronized by the presence of melatonin. We are studying the molecular mechanisms of this prokaryote clock in vitro and in situ within the gastrointestinal tract of laboratory mice.

BIO 199-009        Dr. Robin Cooper, Studying the effect of zinc on synaptic transmission and behavior; The theme of this course is addressing the hypothesis that zinc (Zn2+) will reduce the function of the glutamatergic synaptic transmission in larval Drosophila in a concentration and time dependent manner. It is known that the oral LD50 for zinc is close to 3 g/kg body weight, more than 10-fold higher than cadmium and 50-fold higher than mercury (Plum et al., 2010). But also Zn2+ is an essential element and has a role in over 300 enzymes. Zinc homeostasis is closely associated with neurological diseases including Alzheimer's disease ( Takeda, 2010). It is known that Zn accumulates inside synaptic vesicles of glutamatergic neurons. Behavioral projects will be a start along with various doses of Zn2+ exposure in the food. We have to 1st find out what concentration and exposure time is lethal to larval Drosophila. Then we will use a dose-response and examine larval crawling rate, mouth hook movement rate, and touch sensitivity. We will also examine heart rate with chronic and acute exposure to Zn2+ as the heart is sensitive to Ca2+ and Zn2+ may pass through voltage gated Ca2+ channels. We want to examine if the glutamatergic synapses at the neuromuscular (NMJ) are also altered by acute and chronic exposure to Zn2+. We will do this by stimulating the segmental roots in larval Drosophila and measure synaptic transmission with recordings in muscle fibers. Measures in the change in amplitude of the excitatory junction potentials will be examined. We may also compare responses at the NMJ of crayfish to examine for similarities in response to Zn2+ exposure.

BIO 199-010        Dr. David Westneat, Do parent birds disagree over how to care for their offspring?; This course will introduce freshman to elements of research on wild animals, in our case, free-living birds caring for dependent offspring. We will explore how parents manage challenges to providing care, including what their partner is doing. Students will learn some about behavioral ecology ideas, how to extract behavioral data from video, how data can be processed and then presented and what inferences can be made, and how confident we can be in those conclusions.

BIO 199-011        Dr. Joseph Straley , Solar Power and the Concept of Energy; We will do activities that explore the energy concept: kinetic energy, potential energy, electrical energy, thermal energy, energy in the form of light, chemical energy, energy in magnetism. As a class project we will try to design ways to measure the solar power delivered to a square meter in Lexington, KY on a pretty spring day.

BIO 199-012       Dr. Max Brown, Measuring Gravity; Physics textbooks claim that the acceleration of a falling object is 9.81 m/s^2.  However, one reliable source on the internet, Wolfram Alpha, claims that the acceleration is 9.79871 m/s^2 in Lexington Kentucky.  Our goal is to design and implement a high precision test for the acceleration of a falling object, and thereby resolve the conflict between these two values and possibly improve on the precision given by Wolfram Alpha.

BIO 199-013        Dr. Christopher Crawford, Nuclear Physics; The group will choose from one of three instrumentation research and development projects for experiments involving low energy free neutrons:  1) design and fabrication of precision electromagnetic coils for nuclear magnetic resonance;  2) development of digital signal processing algorithms for high-speed particle recognition; 3) development and testing of apertures to provide uniform particle detection efficiency over an extended source.

BIO 199-014        Mariah Donohue, Parasites of the brown lenur gut; This course will seek to describe parasite diversity and composition in fecal samples collected from brown lemurs of southeastern Madagascar. We aim to understand the relative importance of habitat disturbance and lemur evolutionary history in shaping parasitic communities. Ultimately, these data will help inform conservation efforts to protect these endangered primate species.