posted April 12, 2005

Biology Students Participate in Conference

A total of eight Hope College biology and chemistry students were among those from Hope who made presentations of their research during the 2005 Experimental Biology meeting held in San Diego, Calif., on Thursday-Tuesday, March 31-April 5.

Approximately 14,000 scientists from around the world attended the event, which emphasized anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, immunology, nutrition and physiology. The college arranges to have students attend such meetings as a component of the learning that takes place as they conduct original, collaborative research with members of the faculty.

"The students get to interact with the research scientists who are doing work in the field," said Dr. Christopher Barney, who is the T. Elliott Weier Professor of Biology at Hope.

"It exposes them to the scientific world outside of Hope College," said Dr. Virginia McDonough, who is an associate professor of biology at the college.

The meeting included presentations by researchers concerning up-to-date results of their work, review talks by major scientists in the disciplines, and displays by vendors of the latest scientific equipment, as well as opportunities for scientists to discuss their work informally.

The Hope students presented their work through poster displays that included being available to answer questions from others attending the meeting.

Barney estimated that only about 300 of those attending the international meeting were undergraduate students. "We probably had more undergrads there than any other school," he said.

The Hope students who attended were senior Sara Burns of Naperville, Ill.; senior Brittany Gasper of Owings Mills, Md.; sophomore Alyssa Johnson of Muskegon; junior Matthew Pridgeon of Montgomery; senior Ashleigh Sartor of Plymouth; senior Katherine VaOss of Zeeland; junior Tyson Vonderfecht of Fishers, Ind.; and senior Jennifer Yamaoka of Zeeland.

A total of six Hope faculty members supervised one or more of the research projects: Barney; Dr. Maria Burnatowska-Hledin, professor of biology and chemistry; McDonough; Dr. Michael Pikaart, assistant professor of chemistry; Joseph Stukey, a visiting member of the biology faculty; and Dr. Stephen Taylor, professor of chemistry. Barney, McDonough and Pikaart all attended the meeting.

Others from Hope who attended were Isabelle Le, a 2004 Hope graduate who works as a technician in the laboratory of Burnatowska-Hledin, and Kristi VanDerKolk, a 2004 Hope graduate who worked with Barney and Burnatowska-Hledin.

Additional meeting participants from other institutions who had worked on projects at Hope included David Craymer, a teacher at Muskegon High School who worked with Barney during the summer of 2004 through a professional development fellowship from the American Physiological Society; Kacie Gayheart, a student at the University of Evansville who worked with Barney during the summer through the college's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" grant in biology from the National Science Foundation; and Dr. Thomas Goyne, a member of the Valparaiso University chemistry faculty who had worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Taylor.

  • Sara Burns presented "In vivo and in vitro studies of lead toxicity on GATA-1 zinc finger using mouse erythroleukemic (MEL) cells," research conducted under the supervision of Pikaart.
  • Brittany Gasper presented "Mutation of pdr16 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae results in impaired growth on exogenous fatty acids," research conducted under the supervision of McDonough and Stukey.
  • Alyssa Johnson presented "VACM-1, a cul-5 Gene, Regulates Estrogen Dependent Growth of T47D Cancer Cell Line," research conducted under the supervision of Burnatowska-Hledin.
  • Matthew Pridgeon and Jennifer Yamaoka presented "The synthesis of chiral lactones from racemic y-hyrdoxyamides using the amidase from Brevibacterium sp. Strain R312," research conducted under the supervision of Taylor. In addition to Goyne, others who worked on the project included former Hope biologist Dr. Min-Ken Liao, who is now on the faculty at Furman University, and Valparaiso University student Kyle Miner.
  • Ashleigh Sartor presented "Characterization of a VACM-1 Related Gene with an Extended 3' Untranslated Region," research conducted under the supervision of Burnatowska-Hledin.
  • Katherine VanOss and Kristi VanDerKolk presented "A possible role for VACM-1 in regulating blood pressure in rats," research conducted under the supervision of Barney and Burnatowska-Hledin.
  • Tyson Vonderfecht presented "The effect of mercury, lead, and cadmium on DNA/Gata-1 protein binding affinity," research conducted under the supervision of Pikaart.
  • Isabelle Le presented "VACM-1 expression in rat tissues is regulated by the hydration status and correlates with kidney AQP2 concentrations," research conducted under the supervision of Barney and Burnatowska-Hledin.
  • David Craymer presented "Effects of ingesting Kool-Aid or Gatorade for one week on thirst in rats," research conducted under the supervision of Barney.
  • Kacie Gayheart presented "Endogenous angiotensin II does not regulate oxygen consumption and core temperature in rats," research conducted under the supervision of Barney.