2011-2012 EIDRoP Fellows
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
Current Program at K-State: PhD in Biology
Anticipated Graduation Date: August, 2015
Research: Drosophila melanogaster have colonized nearly every available habitat on earth, exposing different populations to numerous environmental stresses, one of the most important stresses being temperature. Examining phenotypic variation in cold tolerance among heterogeneous environments that differ both spatially and temporally provides a way to answer questions regarding when phenotypic plasticity is present and to what extent. Such environmental fluctuations make it critical for organisms inhabiting these environments to sense the changes and respond accordingly, or suffer the consequences (a decrease in fitness). One such mechanism, phenotypic plasticity, produces varying phenotypes from a single genotype. Patterns of variation across populations will be detected and genes involved in phenotypic plasticity will be identified to further understand the evolution of these “plasticity” genes. A tremendous amount of research currently focuses on linking phenotypes to the underlying genetic architecture, and identifying processes that occur along the way. Linking variation in cold tolerance to the genetic architecture responsible will have future implications in identifying genes responsible for many ecologically important traits not only in D. melanogaster, but other ectotherms as well.
Other Interests: I enjoy any activity that keeps me constantly moving; such as lifting weights, playing basketball, soccer, volleyball, or any sport. It's an odd skill, but I am pretty good at skipping rocks across water. I perfected my skills before I moved to Kansas, living a couple of miles away from Lake Erie where I enjoyed skipping rocks and collecting beach glass. Teaching is one of my favorite activities. Helping someone understand something unfamiliar to them is rewarding in so many ways and gives me a sense of fulfillment. I hope to learn as much about genetics and evolution in the next several years and make a contribution to the scientific community regarding the genetics underlying and evolution behind cold tolerance in D. melanogaster. My family is back in Erie, Pennsylvania and upon graduation I would like to move back to Pennsylvania (maybe Pittsburgh). I would love to get a faculty position at a smaller liberal arts college or university where I can have major teaching/advising responsibilities and still conduct research with out the demanding pressures of conducting research at a research-dominated institution. I miss forests and large bodies of waters and enjoy hiking along the beach or through a dense forest. One last interesting fact that not many people believe: freshmen year of high school I was the fourth shortest kid in my class (including girls) and by senior year I was one of the tallest. I attribute it to a steady diet of Ensure (yes the protein shake marketed towards senior citizens).
Education: Bachelor of Science, Biology (Major in Biology and English; Minor in Botany) -- Chatham University
Current Program at K-State: PhD in Plant Pathology
Anticipated Graduation Date: December, 2014
Hometown: Wichita, KS
Research: My thesis work lies at the intersection of plant genomics, ecology and evolution. I have two main projects: First, I am working to genetically characterize variants within the dominant tallgrass species big bluestem, which are distributed along a precipitation differential ranging from Illinois to western Kansas. Differential response to drought has not been probed within this species although we have evidence that when grown in common environments, the geographically western-most variant (ecotype) possesses more pronounced drought-adaptive features such as shorter stature and reduced leaf blade width. I am using AFLP netural markers to deduce fine population structure and genetic diversity across several pristine populations of big bluestem in the Midwest at a large geographical scale that has not yet been tackled for the species. In addition to this, I will generate a list of candidate genes involved in the functional differential response of the ecotypes to drought stress in the field using 454 pyrosequencing (next-generation sequencing technology). Climate change for the Midwest region includes predicted increased periods of drought and this will be the first sequence data generated for this ecologically-important species related to drought stress. Second, I plan to use genomic resources to study the evolution of polyploidy in wheat. Polyploidy is very common in flowering species such as big bluestem and wheat. While in big bluestem the mechanisms of polyploidy are less clear, the genetic resources have been developed for studying the evolution of polyploidy in wheat so in this case I may investigate gene regulatory response changes that occur following polyploidization and that are related to potential adaptation to novel environments.
Other Interests: I possess at least a dozen houseplants, all that have names. I enjoy reading books, especially nineteenth and twentieth century American literature and especially transcendentalist and travel books. I love to be around my family located in Pennsylvania and I am engaged to another graduate student (a mathematician).
Education: B.S. in Geological Sciences from San Diego State University.
Current Program at K-State: MS in Geology
Anticipated Graduation Date: May, 2012
Research: My research is centered around the Silver City mining district in SW Idaho has historically been one of the top gold and silver producing areas in North America. Despite the growth of the mining industry, it is not entirely clear where the precious metals originate and what role the regional magmatic activity plays. My work is related to finding and providing evidence to support a new and increasingly popular theory of precious metal deposition in epithermal environments. This new theory suggests that precious metals are present as volatile states in magma bodies at depth and are carried to the surface by circulating hydrothermal fluids and emplaced in epithermal vein deposits. To contribute to the scientific debate my research will use petrography, petrology, geochemistry, and geochronology to attempt to answer three main questions: 1) What is the magmatic history of the Silver City District?, 2) What are the temporal relationships between the volcanism and the precious metal mineralization?, and 3) What, if any, are the isotopic relationships between the volcanics and the precious metals? Understanding these key relationships will give economic geologists and the mining industry important information as they explore for new economically sustainable prospects. The growing demand for gold, silver, lithium, and rare earth elements ensures that the mining industry has a viable future. By understanding the origin and depositional process of precious metals the mining industry will be able to better determine where to mine, what to look for, and what the expected results will be.
Other Interests: I like to fill my free time with sports, movies, traveling and camping. After finishing school I hope to start a career teaching geology to up and coming scientists.
Evan P. Hurley
Education: B.S. in Biochemistry from Hobart College; M.S. in Chemistry from University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Current Program at K-State: PhD in Chemistry
Anticipated Graduation Date: May, 2013
Hometown: Bomoseen, VT
Research: The hallmark of our research is to understand the fundamental interactions between molecules. Specifically, we are interested in studying various non-covalent interactions like hydrogen and halogen bonding, and applying this knowledge to the design of new supramolecular architectures. Understanding how to design and develop new molecules with predictable structures and functional properties will help design better materials such as gas-storage devices and pharmaceutical drugs.
Other Interests: In my spare time, I love to hunt, workout, and cook. My plans after graduation are to move back to the northeast part of the united states to be closer to my mom and dad.
Adrian Madsen (Carmichael)
Education: B.S. Natural Science w/ Physics Education Concentration, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO. Minor in Physics. Secondary Teacher Licensure.
Current Program at K-State: PhD in Physics
Anticipated Graduation Date: Fall, 2013
Research: In my research I investigate the difference in the allocation of attention between expert and novices in physics when viewing diagrams in physics problems. Introductory students enter a physics course with a certain way of viewing the physical world, which often does not align well with physical principles. I seek to understand how novices and experts look at the physical world differently as a result of their experiences. I collect eye movement data and verbal reports for each group and have initially found significant differences between the groups in eye movements based on the salience and relevance of each area of the diagram. Next, I am using evidence from experts’ eye movement to infer which parts of a diagram are most important for answering the questions correctly. Similarly, I am using evidence of novices’ eye movements to infer which portions are most distracting. With this, I am designing visual cues which can be used to relocate novices’ attention to important areas for solving correctly. If the novices attend to the correct areas of the diagram and are not distracted by unimportant features, I hypothesize that they will activate relevant prior knowledge and answer correctly. If this process is repeated over time, I predict the novices conceptual understanding of a concept can be improved. Further, I will manipulate the visual cues to determine what type of cue has the highest impact on performance.
Education: B.S. Physics - Benedictine College, B.S. Chemistry - Benedictine College
Current Program at K-State: PhD in Physics
Research: Nanotechnology is a fast-growing area of science that has many potentials. My research involves synthesizing metal-core nanoparticles and encasing them with a shell of different functional groups. I investigate the self-assembly of these nanoparticles to determine the phsyics behind formation. Once more is known on how nanoparticles are formed, they can be direct-assembled to precise specifications in the creation of new, exciting materials.
Emily Archer Slone
Education: B.S. in Biology from Kansas State University
Current Program at K-State: PhD in Biology
Anticipated Graduation Date: August, 2013
Hometown: Kansas City, KS
Research: Ischemia, a condition in which a lack of oxygen and nutrients results in severe inflammation and cellular damage, is a common medical pathology. Subsequent reperfusion to the ischemic region results in far greater injury than observed as a result of ischemia alone. Intestinal ischemia/reperfusion (IR) damage is associated with multiple organ failure, resulting in a mortality rate ranging from 60 – 80% in humans.
IR-induced injury results in significant tissue damage in wildtype mice, but not antibody deficient Rag-1-/- mice. However, Rag-1-/- mice sustain intestinal damage after administration of wild-type antibodies or naturally occurring, specific anti-phospholipid related monoclonal antibodies, suggesting involvement of a lipid antigen. We hypothesize that IR initiates metabolism of cellular lipids, resulting in production of an antigen recognized by anti-phospholipid antibodies.
IR treatment induced significantly more lysolipid and free arachidonic acid (AA) production than Sham treatment from jejunal sections analyzed by electrospray ionization triple quadrupole mass spectrometry. While lysolipid and free AA levels were similar in wildtype (C57Bl/6) and Rag-1-/- mice, IR treatment led to Cox-2 activation and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production in wildtype, but not in the antibody-deficient, Rag-1-/- mice. Administration of wild-type antibodies to Rag-1-/- mice restored PGE2 production and intestinal damage. These data indicate that IR-induced intestinal damage requires antibodies for Cox-2 stimulated PGE2 production but not for production of lysoPC and free AA.
We hypothesize that endothelium and/or epithelium is the major cell type contributing to the increased PGE2 production observed in whole tissue subjected to IR treatment. Thus, a cell culture system to study individual cell types was established. Both endothelial and epithelial cell lines will be subjected to hypoxia/reoxygenation treatment, as a model of IR conditions, and assessment of PGE2 production as well as mRNA transcripts of various proteins, including the Cox-2 enzyme, will be done.
Additionally, it is known that the pathology of IR-induced damage involves activation of the complement system, as complement inhibition attenuates injury. We hypothesize that complement receptors are up-regulated as a result of ischemic (or hypoxic) treatment. Real-time PCR will be used to investigate whether complement receptor expression is up-regulated as a result of hypoxia/reoxygenation treatment within a cell culture system.
These studies will add to the understanding of IR-related pathologies and may provide direction for future therapeutic development.
Other Interests: Married with a step-son (4 yrs old); have a dog; completed two years of the veterinary medicine program at KSU; enjoy backpacking