Thursday, April 16, 2015

Three Swimmers Earn Competitive Summer Research Positions

Three Lewis & Clark swimmers found out recently they received summer research positions!  They went to a junior, a sophomore, and a freshman.  Our student-athletes will receive a stipend and housing allowance for their summer research funded through the John S. Rogers Science Research Program.

This is an amazing opportunity for them and one that sets a school like Lewis & Clark apart from many others!  We have had numerous swimmers work on funded summer research over the years in fields as diverse as psychology, biochemistry, philosophy, computer science, and environmental studies.

Check out what each of our swimmers is doing: 

Sofia Koutzoukis
Sofia Koutzoukis“This summer I'll be participating in ecology research funded by the John S. Rogers Science Research Program.  This year was a really cool opportunity because we now have two ecology-focused biology faculty members and both were offering intern opportunities.  I applied and was offered the opportunity to work with Dr. Margaret Metz this summer.  I took Disease Ecology with her Fall of 2014.”

“I'll be in Big Sur this summer working with Dr. Metz through a lab at UC Davis that is interested in Sudden Oak Death in central Californian forests.  My research project will help Dr. Metz and the lab better understand what forest succession looks like after disturbances by fire and disease.  We're basing the research for the summer in preexisting evidence that trees in the area are adapted to disturbance regime.  Even when the above ground biomass burns down, the roots stay intact and are able to sprout new shoots from the roots that will become a new trunk. The shoots make the trees look like shrubby bushes and eventually, the shoots thin out and only one is left as the trunk.  I'll be sampling the ages of the seedlings so we can better understand how many years after each type of disturbance that shoots emerge, and how long it takes for the trunk-shoot to be isolated.”

“Day to day, I'll be working with a grad student from the UC Davis lab, who worked with Dr. Metz when she was a postdoc in that lab.  We'll be hiking somewhere between 1-6 miles from our base camp to 1 square acre plots where I'll take my samples, help the grad student get her data, take some soil and leaf samples and then head back to the camp.  I'll spend about 8 weeks doing this and then 2 weeks either in Portland, Davis, or at home analyzing the data.  The end product will be a poster at the Rogers poster session, but we've talked about expanding this research into an independent study throughout the next semester.”

Jon Torres
Jon Torres“This summer I will be working in Dr. Tamily Weissman-Unni's lab.  For 10 weeks this summer, my experience as a research intern will include various tasks.  In the lab, a multicolor fluorescence labeling approach ("Brainbow") is used to label neuronal populations in many different colors within the living, developing zebrafish brain.  I will use embryonic microinjection techniques, express fluorescent proteins in zebrafish larvae, and use fluorescence microscopy to visualize neurons and dividing cells in vivo (in living fish).  Investigations will focus on mechanisms that regulate dividing cells that generate neurons during brain development.”

“The lab group of about 5 will present a talk during the summer with an overview of the research projects.  I will be working independently on a project centered on molecular biology and microscopy and will coauthor a poster that summarizes the work over summer.”

Elizabeth Armitage
Elizabeth ArmitageStructural Studies and Functional Characterization of Neurotoxic Venom Peptides from Sicariidae Spiders

“Spider venoms contain hundreds of components, including neurotoxic peptides and proteins.  These venom components are of interest for their potential use as therapeutic drugs and as tools for neurophysiology research, as many of them specifically inhibit or activate ion channels and receptors in nerve cells.  The aim of this research is to discover interesting peptides and proteins from the venom of the brown recluse spider and its relatives (the Sicariidae spiders), and then to characterize their structure and function.  We will recombinantly-express spider venom peptides and study them using NMR spectroscopy and other techniques.”

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