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 2018  [Project descriptions are below the table]








Dr. Stephen Testa


11:00 am - 1:50 pm

Chem-Phys 309

How Do Small Molecules Interact with DNA?


Drs. Aardra and         Pradeep Kachroo


4:00 pm - 6:50 pm

Plant Sci Bldg 109

Molecular and Genetic Analysis of Microbial Defense in Plants


Dr. (Stephen) Randal Voss


5:00 pm - 6:50 pm


Analysis of Gene Expression During Salamander Tail Regeneration


Dr. Melody Danley


9:00 am - 11:50 am

JSB 104

Ecophysiology of Crayfish


Dr. Christopher Crawford




Research and Development for Experimental Nuclear Physics


Dr. Phil Crowley & Kaylynne Glover


2:00 pm - 3:50 pm

Kuehne Conf Rm, Small Animal Building

Female Fertility and Perception Ability


Dr. Becky Kellum



THM 300E

Studies of Sex lethal Gene Regulation through GFP Reporters


Dr. Robin Cooper


4:00 pm - 4:50 pm

MDS 155B         

Animal Behavior and Neural Circuits


Drs. Vincent Cassone & Jiffin Paulose


2:00 pm - 4:50 pm

THM 302

What Makes a Clock Tick? Characterizing a Bacterial Clock Through Random Mutagenesis


Dr. Peter Mirabito


2:00 pm - 4:30 pm

JSB 144 &          JSB 158

How to Make Big Sperm


Dr. Douglas Harrison


1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

JSB 144 &          JSB 158

How to Make Big Sperm


Dr. Julie Pendergast


12:00 pm - 2:50 pm

THM 316

Circadian Rhythms in College Students


Dr. Liz Debski


2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

JSB 114

Modeling Neuronal Activity


Dr. Joao Costa &           Emily Rice


3:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Garrigus Building

Precision Technology and Animal Behavior in Dairy Cattle Production


Dr. Yang Jiang


1:00 pm - 2:50 pm

135 Med Behavioral Sci Building

Cognitive Neuroscience Research Experience


Dr. Ed Rucker




Altering Cell Death Programs of Cancer Cells


Dr. David Atwood


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

CP 245

The Dangerous Confluence of Honey Bees, Pesticides, and Honey


Dr. Phil Crowley & Kaylynne Glover


12:00 pm - 12:50 pm*

Kuehne Conf Rm, Small Animal Building

Behavior of Men with Women: Personality or Response to Signals?


Dr. Mark Prendergast


11:00 am - 12:15 pm


Neuroplasticity in Drug and Alcohol Use


Dr. David Weisrock & Dr. Luke Moe


3:00 pm - 4:50 pm


The Eww Inside the Goo: A DNA Sequence-Based Study of Bacteria in the Guts of Freshwater Mussels.

BIO 199-074        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 199-075        Drs. Aardra and 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 199-076        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 199-077       Dr. Melody Danley, Ecophysiology of Crayfish: Students will investigate behavioral and physiological changes in crayfish in response to drought. 

BIO 199-078        Dr. Christopher Crawford, Research and Development for Experimental Nuclear Physics: Various projects developing instruments for use in experiments on low energy neutrons, which will be performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Examples include programming high speed digital data acquisitions, designing precision electromagnetic coils and shielding, and fabrication of surface current coils using a 6-axis industrial robotic arm. *Physics majors and minors only*

BIO 199-079        Dr. Phil Crowley & Kaylynne Glover, Female Fertility and Perception Ability: A woman's fertility varies cyclically, but there is evidence that women may have evolved to hide their own fertility from themselves. This class will test this hypothesis by comparing when a woman believes she is fertile with when she is actually fertile. Days and times are TBD as students will sign up to receive and test samples collected from study participants at various days and times throughout the week (though we recommend students arrange their schedules to be available during some lunch hours each week). 

BIO 199-080        Dr. Becky Kellum, Studies of Sex lethal Gene Regulation through GFP Reporters: Students will work collaboratively to collect embryos from Drosophila stocks that carry a transgene of the Sex lethal gene promoter fused to GFP and are mutant for regulators of Sex lethal gene expression.  They will then use fluorescence microscopy to count GFP+ and GFP- embryos.  They will also use Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to analyze the molecular structures of two mutant versions of one of the examined genes.

BIO 199-081        Dr. Robin Cooper, Animal Behavior and Neural Circuits: A mechanistic understanding of animal behavior involving neural circuits in using a genetically tractable model Drosophila (Fruit Fly).  We will quantify animal behavior and then develop a ethogram in describing behaviors. We will define the various behaviors and test to determine if the descriptions are clear by examining scores of class mates on the ethogram.  We will be altering neural circuits for dopamine, serotonin, sensory and motor neurons.

BIO 199-082        Drs. Vincent Cassone & Jiffin Paulose, What Makes a Clock Tick? Characterizing a Bacterial Clock through Random Mutagenesis: Recently, the Cassone lab discovered that one member of the human gut microbiome, Enterobacter aergoenes, possesses a self-sustaining circadian rhythm that is sensitive to temperature and the hormone melatonin.  This semester, we will use classical forward genetics ("wreck and check") to disrupt the various genes in this bacterium, observe the effects on the circadian rhythm and melatonin sensitivity, and determine the genes responsible for those effects.  If successful, these experiments will provide us with the genetic underpinnings of a novel timing mechanism that has evolved to work symbiotically within our own bodies.

BIO 199-083 and -084     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 199-085        Dr. Julie Pendergast, Circadian Rhythms in College Students: 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. 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 199-086        Dr. Liz Debski, Modeling Neuronal Activity: Students will develop computer simulations of neuronal activity for the classroom by running and/or modifying existing software modules of the computer program, NEURON.  The goal is to produce written exercises that use NEURON to illustrate the fundamental properties of neuronal communication.  No prior computer programming experience is necessary and in addition to learning how to use this program, participants will   enhance their own understanding of how the nervous system activity can create behavior.

BIO 199-087        Dr. Joao Costa and Emily Rice, Precision Technology and Animal Behavior in Dairy Cattle Production: Ever wonder how dairy cattle spend their time? Is she spending most of her day walking around or eating? Why is she lying down for so long? Producers utilize precision technologies to determine the behavioral activities of their animals. They use this information to answer many questions regarding the animals’ health and productivity. Perhaps they are notified via the activity monitoring software that one cow has spent a significant amount of time that day lying down and being unusually inactive. The producer may investigate this alert further by looking in on the cow in person and finding that she has become ill. 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 199-088        Dr. Yang Jiang, Cognitive Neuroscience Research Experience: The project is designed for students who are interested in research on brain and cognition in humans.  Students will learn behavioral neuroscience approaches through hands-on laboratory experience (e.g. recording brain activity during cognitive tasks). Students will be involved in investigation of neurophysiological mechanisms underlying of human attention, memory or motivation.

BIO 199-089        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 199-090        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 transdisciplinary 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 199-091        Dr. Phil Crowley & Kaylynne Glover, Behavior of Men with Women: Personality or Response to Signals?: Evidence suggests that different motivations and conditions influence whether or not men engage in sexual activities. In this class, we will survey college-aged men to determine (1) core personality traits, (2) their response in a variety of sexual situations, and (3) their response to different pheromonal cues in order to understand the relationship between personalities, conditions, and sexual motivations. *Students will be expected to devote time outside of class for this lab.

BIO 199-092        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. *Neuroscience majors only*


BIO 199-               Dr. David Weisrock, The Eww Inside the Goo: A DNA Sequence-Based Study of Bacteria in the Guts of Freshwater Mussels. 

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