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 2021  [Project descriptions are below the table]

 

Section # Instructor  Day(s) Time  Location  Title 
199-003 Robin Cooper  TUES 12-12:50pm  JSB 104 Neuronal Function and Synaptic Transmission
199-004 Nicholas McLetchie WED  2-4:50 JSB 144 The Acclimating Leaf
199-005 David Atwood WED 3-5pm Chem-Phys 245 (Starting online, but listed as in-person in schedule. May add an in-person component later in semester) Honey Bees and Pesticides
199-006 Emily Croteau WED 10am-12pm JSB 304 Non-invasive DNA Monitoring 
199-007 Joao Costa Wed  4-7pm 400 WP Garrigus or Online Animal behavior and precision technologies: animal research in the XXI century
199-008 Douglas Harrison & Brian Rymond WED 4-4:50pm JSB 158 Regulation of Aging by SERF Family Proteins
199-009 Stephen Testa WED 1:00 PM - 2:50 PM   Chem-Phys 236 Improving the "Strawberry DNA" Experiment
199-010 Stephen (Randal) Voss Mon 5-7pm THM B03  Analysis of Gene Expression During Salamander Tail Regeneration
199-011 Kathryn Everson Mon 3:00-4:450pm JSB 304 Evolutionary Genetics in Madagascar's Lemurs
199-012 Catherine Linnen Friday 10-11:50am  Online  Using Social Networks to Understand Biodiversity 
199-013 Robin Cooper  Thurs 2-3pm JSB 104 The effects of Mn2+ on dopaminergic synaptic transmission: behavior and the central nervous system
199-014 Jeremy Davis Tues  12-1:50pm online  The Hidden World: biodiversity in insects
199-015 Kathryn Everson Wed 3:00-4:450pm JSB 304 Evolutionary Genetics in Madacascar's Lemurs
199-016 Douglas Harrison & Sepideh Dadkhah TBA    Zoom Discovering Genes with Variable Expression


Lab Course Descriptions

199-004           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 breath.  The overall goal of this project is to 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 year’s project will investigate changes in color that occur among and within leaves of the same plant.  Students will focus on a particular stimulus that might affect leaf color, design the experimental setup to manipulate the stimulus at the level of the leaf, and test a leaf’s relevant responses to this stimulus.

 

199-005           Dr. David Atwood, Honey Bees and Pesticides; 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. The presence of pesticides in bee products can have significant detrimental outcomes, from the massive loss of bees observed in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) to the human consumption (or use) of bee products that contain pesticides. Despite the immediacy and importance of the bee-honey-pesticide relationship there has been a surprisingly modest scientific and public response. This STEMCats transdisciplinary research project will develop laboratory methods for isolating pesticides from 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 and the need to protect honey bee populations as well as indigenous North American bees. Starting online, but listed as in-person in schedule. May add an in-person component later in semester

 

199-006           Dr. Emily Croteau, Non-invasive DNA Monitoring; Non-invasive DNA monitoring is a type of biological monitoring that doesn’t involve directly manipulating study organisms but, sampling traces that they’ve left behind in an environment.  Examples of non-invasive DNA monitoring include camera trapping which involves setting remotely activated cameras to take photos of animals that use a particular area and environmental DNA monitoring which, consists of isolating DNA from water, air or soil (eDNA) to detect specific species.  In this study we will attempt to detect wildlife area use via camera traps and eDNA isolated from creeks.  During the semester students must be prepared to take one to two Saturday day trips for field sampling and setting camera traps.

 

199-007           Dr. Joao Costa , Animal behavior and precision technologies: animal research in the XXI century; 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.

 

199-008           Dr. Douglas Harrison & Brian Rymond, Regulation of Aging by SERF Family Proteins; Aging is a common phenomenon that occurs in all animals.  Hallmarks of aging can be seen at all levels: cellular, tissue, and organismal.  Yet individuals of a species don’t all age at the same rate.  Differences in both genetics and environment can influence that rate.  Our preliminary data suggest that one member of an evolutionarily conserved family of small proteins, known as SERF, may be a genetic contributor to the delay of aging in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.  We found that decreasing SERF activity resulted in premature aging and death.  Conversely, increasing SERF activity led to both longer lifespan and improved neuromuscular function.  During this semester, we will use genetic tools to manipulate the activities of two additional SERF genes found in Drosophila and will determine the effects on aging and lifespan.  We expect to determine whether the functions of the SERF family genes are overlapping or distinct with respect to the genetic regulation of aging.  Because of the high conservation of these genes in other species, we expect these results to apply to aging in other animals. Wednesdays 4:00-4:50 + 2 hours TBD

 

199-009           Dr. Stephen Testa, Improving the "Strawberry DNA" Experiment; Oftentimes, the first hands-on experience children have with DNA is when they isolate DNA from strawberries. This ‘Strawberry DNA’ experiment is simple enough that it can be performed in an elementary school classroom, or even at home, using common household chemicals. At this educational level, DNA is usually framed in a purely biological context, and the experimental method is thought of as an inflexible, almost magical recipe. This approach downplays the importance of DNA as a useful chemical entity which can be subjected to experimental analyses after it has been isolated. In this 1 credit research course, students will attempt to redress these limitations by developing new and improved methods for the classic ‘Strawberry DNA’ experiment. The focus this year will be on developing age-appropriate methods for the visualization of isolated strawberry DNA, for example via fluorescence.

 

199-010           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.

 

199-011           Kathryn Everson, Evolutionary Genetics in Madagascar’s Lemurs; The island of Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot and a natural laboratory for evolutionary research. Of the mammals living on Madagascar today, Lemurs (Primates) were the first to colonize the island approximately 60 million years ago. Today, 108 species of lemur are recognized and approximately 80% of these species are threatened by habitat loss. In this class we will work with large amounts of genetic data from lemurs to answer questions related to their evolutionary history. Students will develop skills in bioinformatics, statistical analysis, and scientific communication. 

 

199-012           Dr. Catherine Linnen, Using Social Networks to Understand Biodiversity; Online social networks have emerged as a powerful new tool for documenting biodiversity across the globe. In this course, we will take advantage of one such platform to generate and test hypotheses about patterns of variation in nature. A joint venture of the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic Society, iNaturalist is a global community of nature enthusiasts that contribute observations (photos, time, and location of encounters with an individual organism) and species identifications. At present, iNaturalist contains over 50 million individual observations of over 300,000 species. Students in this course will learn how to both mine data from and contribute new observations to iNaturalist.

 

199-013           Dr. Robin Cooper, The effects of Mn2+ on dopaminergic synaptic transmission: behavior and the central nervous system; The theme of this course is addressing the hypothesis to be tested is manganese (Mn2+) will alter the reduce function of the dopaminergic central neural circuits in larval Drosophila in a concentration and time dependent manner. It is known that Mn2+ ingestion has detrimental effects in mammals (including humans) and is used to mimic Parkinson's as a model in rodents. We will examine this as a model in Drosophila and examine if dopaminergic neurons are damaged selectively by exposure to Mn2+.

Behavioral projects will be a start along with various doses of Mn2+ 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 Mn2+ as the heart is sensitive to dopamine and Mn2+ may block voltage gated Ca2+ channels. We will examine optogenetic activation of dopaminergic neurons in larvae for wild type and ones genetically expressing Channel Rhodopsin. Behaviors (crawling and mouth hook movements) will be used for comparison while activating Channel Rhodopsin and ones fed Mn2+ as compare to controls. We will use GFP expression selectively in dopaminergic neurons to examine if they are killed out due to Mn2+ exposure. We want to examine if the glutamatergic synapses at the neuromuscular (NMJ) are also altered by acute and chronic exposure to Mn2+. 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.

 

199-014           Jeremy Davis, The Hidden World: biodiversity in insects;  Insects account for nearly 40% of all described multicellular species on Earth, yet this immense diversity is often underappreciated – especially as climate change leaves insects most vulnerable. In this course we will use online databases such as iNaturalist to assess insect diversity and ask questions about the origins of biodiversity, and why we might be losing it. Students in this course will learn how to design and implement original research plans that ask fundamental questions about the evolution and ecology of the hidden world of insects. This course will focus on online tools for most of the course, with opportunities for outdoor surveys later in the semester. 

 

199-011           Kathryn Everson, Evolutionary Genetics in Madagascar’s Lemurs; The island of Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot and a natural laboratory for evolutionary research. Of the mammals living on Madagascar today, Lemurs (Primates) were the first to colonize the island approximately 60 million years ago. Today, 108 species of lemur are recognized and approximately 80% of these species are threatened by habitat loss. In this class we will work with large amounts of genetic data from lemurs to answer questions related to their evolutionary history. Students will develop skills in bioinformatics, statistical analysis, and scientific communication. 

 

199-016           Dr. Douglas Harrison & Sepideh Dadkhah, Discovering Genes with Variable Expression; Students will use bioinformatic tools to examine published gene expression data on UK’s supercomputer cluster. Genes with especially variable levels of transcription will be identified and characterized.

X
Enter your linkblue username.
Enter your linkblue password.
Secure Login

This login is SSL protected

Loading