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Five Bond LSC undergraduates win Arts and Sciences Scholarships

Five undergraduate researchers at Bond LSC were awarded arts and sciences scholarships to help them continue their education. Congratulations to each of the winners.

Hannah Baldwin/Bond LSC MU undergraduate Wade Dismukes gathers plants from a growing room in Bond LSC to prepare for an experiment about plant evolution on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Dismukes, who won an arts and sciences scholarship, is a researcher in Dr. Chris Pires’ lab. He is a double major in biology and math.

Hannah Baldwin/Bond LSC
MU undergraduate Wade Dismukes gathers plants from a growing room in Bond LSC to prepare for an experiment about plant evolution on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Dismukes, who won an arts and sciences scholarship, is a researcher in Dr. Chris Pires’ lab. “I got into science because I had good mentors,” he said.

Wade Dismukes started his career as an undergraduate researcher at Bond LSC in Dr. Jack Schultz’s lab almost four years ago. He started out studying how plants, specifically grape vines, reacted to being eaten by insects, specifically phylloxera. About two years ago, he joined Dr. Chris Pires’ lab in order to learn to read a transcriptome, which is a way of looking at all the genes an organism expresses, Dismukes said. A senior with one year of school left, Dismukes is double majoring in math and biology. He plans to go to graduate school and eventually become a research scientist. He’ll stick to plant science, he said. Dismukes credits his interest in science to good mentors.

Hannah Baldwin/Bond LSC MU junior Nathan Coffey works in Dr. Dawn Cornelison's lab on an experiment involving muscle tissue on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Coffey, a winner of an arts and sciences scholarship, said his research focuses on how different types of muscle work within the body. He said that he hopes to complete an MDPhD one day so he can be a researcher and physician. This summer, he will intern at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, Md.

Hannah Baldwin/Bond LSC
MU junior Nathan Coffey works in Dr. Dawn Cornelison’s lab on an experiment involving muscle tissue on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Coffey, a winner of an arts and sciences scholarship, said his research focuses on how different types of muscle work within the body. He said that he hopes to complete an MDPhD one day so he can be a researcher and physician. This summer, he will intern at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, Md.

MU junior Nathan Coffey thought he would study physical therapy. Then, he tore his ACL playing soccer. He became interested in medicine and switched majors to biological sciences. He has been an undergraduate researcher in Dr. D. Cornelison’s lab since his sophomore year. This summer, he will intern at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Md., where he will work on a research project. Currently, he researchers how different types of muscle work within the human body. Coffey says he would like to pursue an MDPhD so he can become a research physician once he finishes his bachelor’s degree.

Hannah Baldwin/Bond LSC MU junior Kevin Bird inspects plants in a greenhouse on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. Bird, who won an arts and science scholarship, is a student in Dr. Chris Pires' lab studying how plants express genes.

Hannah Baldwin/Bond LSC
MU junior Kevin Bird inspects plants in a greenhouse on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. Bird, who won an arts and science scholarship, is a student in Dr. Chris Pires’ lab studying how plants express genes.

MU junior Kevin Bird said a heart defect he was born with made him interested in genetics from a young age. Now, the biology and philosophy major works in Dr. Chris Pires’ lab to understand the genetics behind why Brassica rapa — a species that include napa cabbage, mizuna, turnips, bok choy and field mustard — is nutritious. He uses genomics and quantitative genetics to conduct his research. Bird said he wants to continue to study plant genetics in a doctoral program and eventually become a professor so he can teach and research plant molecular evolution and systems biology.

Courtesy of Morgan Seibert MU sophomore Morgan Seibert is a researcher in Dr. D. Cornelison's lab at Bond LSC. She is a winner of an arts and sciences scholarship.

Courtesy of Morgan Seibert
MU sophomore Morgan Seibert is a researcher in Dr. D. Cornelison’s lab at Bond LSC. She is a winner of an arts and sciences scholarship.

Morgan Seibert has been interested in science since she was kid, farming with her father. The Mu sophomore currently studies rhabdomyosarcoma, the type of skeletal muscle cancer that  occurs most often in children, alongside Dr. D. Cornelison and a graduate student. Seibert plans to continue researching independently throughout the summer and fall. Her research in the coming months will focus on the role of receptors known as Ephs and ephrins in the nuclei of cancer cells. The research may lead to new treatments for cancer. Seibert said she hopes to either go to medical school or continue her research in graduate school.

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MU undergraduate Badr Almadi, a researcher in Dr. Anand Chandrasekhar’s lab could not be reached for an interview or photograph. He is also a winner of an arts and sciences scholarship.

Oliver Rando researches effect of fathers’ lifestyles on their children

How much does a newborn know about the world?

That can depend on their parents’ genes, according Oliver Rando, an epigeneticist at the University of Massachusetts.

Rando will speak Saturday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m. at the 11th Annual Life Sciences and Society Program at Bond LSC. His research focuses on how fathers’ lifestyles affect their children, one part of the symposium’s focus on epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how organisms change because of a modification in gene expression.

Rando is clear that his research is no more important than that of other scientists in his field.

“The field we work in is important since we and others have shown that a father’s lifestyle can potentially affect disease risk and other aspects of his children,” he said.

During his talk on Saturday, Rando will discuss a “paternal effect paradigm” based on experiments his lab conducted on male mice. The mice were fed different diets and mated with control females. Then researchers analyzed the metabolic effects that resulted in their offspring.

“In terms of the basic science aspects of the system, doing this sort of experiment with fathers rather than mothers is important, since mothers provide both an egg and a uterus to the child, whereas in many cases fathers only provide sperm,” Rando said. “So, with fathers you don’t have as many things to look at to find where the relevant information is.”

Scientists in his lab also study yeast and worms to understand epigenetic inheritance. They use molecular biology, genetic and genome-wide techniques to conduct the research.

For more information about Dr. Oliver Rando, read this Q&A from the Boston Globe.

Find more information about LSSP events and speakers at http://lssp.missouri.edu/epigenetics.

2015 Graduate Life Sciences Joint Recruitment Weekend highlights collaborative nature of research at Bond Life Sciences Center

 
Faculty and students crowded the hallways at Bond Life Sciences Center for an interdisciplinary poster session on Saturday. About 40 prospective graduate students listened to faculty and current graduate students from the biochemistry, interdisciplinary plant group, plant sciences, molecular pathogenesis and therapeutics (MPT), genetics area program and the life sciences fellowship program discuss their work.
The poster session was part of the 2015 Graduate Life Sciences Joint Recruitment Weekend, an event aimed at helping prospective graduate students determine if MU is the right place for them to continue their education. About 175 people participated, including current graduate students and faculty.
MU biochemistry senior Flore N’guessan said she applied to the MPT program because of her interest in virology.
“I’ve always wanted to do research,” she said.
N’guessan is currently a researcher in the Burke lab, which works on testing potential antiviral therapeutics on HIV. N’guessan has applied to other graduate programs but said that the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of MU’s life sciences program appeals to her because it allows her to gain skills from other labs.
“It’s a collaborative and interdisciplinary university,” Dr. Jay Thelen, an associate professor of biochemistry, said. “That’s what this weekend highlights.”
Thelen emphasized that the benefit of events like the interdisciplinary poster session allows prospective students to see the diversity of science studied at Bond LSC and in labs throughout MU. And, he said, “It’s exciting to see how many students there are.”
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