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 2022  [Project descriptions are below the table]









Mark Prendergast




Neuroplasticity in Addiction


Reddy Palli
Anna Rosalee Pasternak


T - 1-2pm
Th -1-3pm

Ag Science North      A-221

Tick and tick-borne disease vector surveillance and diagnostics. 


D. Nicholas McLetchie



JSB 144 ?

The Acclimating Leaf


Joao Costa



WP Garrigus

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


Karla Lightfield



JSB 154

Antibiotic Discovery


Andrea Erhardt
Mike McGlue



Slone Research Bldg 213

Exploring Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada (California)


Emily Croteau



JSB 304

Non-invasive DNA Monitoring


Stephen (Randal) Voss




Analysis of Gene Expression During Salamander Tail Regeneration


Pradeep Kachroo
Aardra Kachroo



Plant Sci Building 109

Molecular and Electrical Signaling in Plants


Edmund Rucker



THM 313

Use of a 3D growth environment for cancer cells


Vincent Cassone



JSB 304

Effects of melatonin on salivary melatonin, psychomotor vigilance and sleepiness

Lab Course Descriptions

BIO 199-002        Dr. Mark Prendergast, Neuroplasticity in Addiction; *On surgery days, students will be in lab 2-2.5 hours.
Development of alcohol dependence requires neuroplasticity of hippocampus glutamate systems. Students working on this project will employ a neuronal cell culture model to examine neuroplasticity in the hippocampus caused by binge-like exposure to alcohol. Students will be trained to perform sterile rodent brain surgery; fluorescent microscopy and histology to assess the extent of neuroplasticity resulting from alcohol exposure. This section is reserved for Neuroscience majors in the STEMCats program, or an interest in Neuroscience with permission from instructor.

BIO 199-003        Dr. Reddy Palli and Anna Rosalee Pasternak, Tick and tick-borne disease vector surveillance and diagnostics; Vectors are organisms, often arthropods, that can transmit infectious pathogens and parasites to humans, animals, or both. Illnesses resulting from transmission of these parasites, viruses, and bacteria are known as vector-borne diseases. Ticks are vectors of several diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and red meat allergy. Tick-borne diseases are becoming an emerging concern in the fields of human, veterinary, and wildlife health as populations grow and the number of cases for these illnesses, like Lyme disease, continue to climb. Surveillance and pathogen diagnostics are the first line of defense in mitigating disease impacts and enacting effective control measures. Through lab and lecture, you will learn how to perform tick collections in the fields, identify tick specimen, learn molecular techniques such as DNA extraction and PCR for pathogen detection, and obtain a well-rounded understanding of the medical, veterinary and public health relevance of vectors. 

BIO 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 years 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.

BIO 199-005        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 199-006        Dr. Karla Lightfield, Antibiotic Discovery

BIO 199-007        Dr. Andrea Erhardt and Dr. Mike McGlue, Exploring Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada (California); Students will use lakes and isotopes to search for evidence of climate change in California's mountain headwaters over the past several hundred years. Skills/expertise will be developed in the science of climate change, biogeochemistry, limnology, and alpine ecology in the Sierra Nevada. The course is appropriate for students who care about the environment and are interested in learning how to use science to conserve and protect the planet and its water resources.

BIO 199-008        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.

BIO 199-009        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 199-010        Dr Pradeep Kachroo and Dr. Aardra Kachroo, Molecular and Electrical Signaling in Plants

BIO 199-011        Dr. Edmund Rucker, Use of a 3D growth environment for cancer cells; Will work time out with students, according to their schedule.

BIO 199-012        Dr. Vincent Cassone, Effects of melatonin on salivary melatonin, psychomotor vigilance and sleepiness; Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland during the night. It has been shown to decrease sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) and decrease sleep fragmentation (stops waking up at night). It has also been used to help with jetlag and to synchronize sleep patterns in blind patients. However, as a dietary supplement, albeit a very safe dietary supplement, it is not regulated by the FDA, and very little is known about the pharmacokinetics of the widely varying dosages available in supermarkets and health food stores. This project will test the effects of 4 oral dosages of melatonin (0 mg (control), 300 mg (.3 mg), 1 mg, and 5 mg) manufactured by Sundown Naturals, on the salivary concentrations of melatonin, on the self-reported level of sleepiness, and on a psychomotor test to determine reaction times. Students will then learn how to conduct a biochemical assay for melatonin, using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for salivary melatonin (IBL International).