BETHANY, W.Va. – Four Bethany College students are among the 103 students representing nine West Virginia colleges and universities participating in the third annual Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Charleston on Feb.1.
Bethany College students who are participating are:
Amy Furda, a Biology major from Wellsburg, W.Va.,
Cara Henry, a Biology major from St. Clairsville, Ohio,
Stephanie Hovatter, a Biology major from Arthurdale, W.Va.,
Briana Leatherman, a Chemistry major from Morgantown, W.Va.
The students are presenting posters in the area of biology and chemistry.
Furda, who participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at the Medical University of Ohio at Toledo, spent her time conducting research in the lab of her mentor, Dr. Douglas Pittman, director of the SURF program and assistant professor of physiology and cardiovascular genomics.
A major cancer study conducted in recent years suggested that a variant of a DNA repair gene may play a role in high familial breast cancer. This study prompted Pittman and his lab to create the tools necessary to test this theory.
Furda conducted specialized analyses to determine if this study was correct. The findings of her research will be evaluated by Pittman's lab and will lead to the publication of the results with Furda cited as co-author of the research.
Henry participated in a research internship at Marshall University's School of Medicine in Huntington, W.Va. Her research was sponsored by the West Virginia Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE). This research was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health.
Henry worked in the biochemistry department under Dr. Beverly Delidow, researching the effects of retinoic acid, a vitamin A derivative, treatment on melanoma skin cancer cells.
This research experience allowed her to learn many lab techniques and procedures. The internship also allowed Henry the opportunity to participate in a scientific poster session, and she was selected to be a main presenter at the WV-INBRE research symposium held at Marshall University last August.
Hovatter interned at West Virginia University through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program. She worked in Dr. Jim McGraw's lab under Emily Mooney, a Ph.D. student.
In McGraw's lab, graduate student work is focused around the tree of heaven, black cohosh and American ginseng. Hovatter chose to focus her work on American ginseng.
For her project, she chose five pairs of ginseng populations. Each pair was located in different state and composed of a protected population and a harvested population. Each of the populations had been monitored by the lab for several years.
Hovatter used census data to compile a random list of plants from each size class in each population. She then visited each of the populations and aged the randomly selected plants. She then studied the effects of age and growth of American ginseng.
Leatherman interned at West Virginia University in the SURE program. During the course of this program, she worked with Dr. Jed Doelling and conducted research on Arabidopsis, a mustard weed plant.
She isolated the plant DNA and performed agar gel electrophoresis in search of a triple homozygous mutant plant for genes UBC 4, 5 and 6. These genes are part of the Ubiquitin pathway, which is found in both plants and humans.
This pathway results in protein degradation, or the breakdown of proteins. Failure of this pathway could lead to the build-up of proteins, creating plaques that are commonly found in the brain of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's patients.
Leatherman also attended a conference at the University of Wisconsin at Madison which covered all aspects of research with Arabidopsis.
Other colleges and universities represented during Undergraduate Research Day are Fairmont State University, Marshall University, the University of Charleston, West Liberty State College, West Virginia University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Wheeling Jesuit University and West Virginia University Institute of Technology.