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Beloit Summer Biomedical Research Scholars Program

The Beloit College Biomedical Research Scholars Program opportunities for 2017.

The Beloit College Biomedical Research Scholars Program is an 8-week program of mentored laboratory research for current Beloit College students. Biomed Scholars will receive a stipend, must enroll in one unit of Biology 392: Independent Research in Biology, and pay summer tuition for this course. Scholars may contract with the college for room and board. The stipend has been calculated to cover these costs.  The program will run during June and July.

To apply, students should:

  • submit an application using the Beloit Summer Scholar common application.
  • request two reference reports from faculty members or work supervisors; at least one report must be from a Beloit College faculty member. Potential mentors are eligible to submit recommendations.
  • email an unofficial transcript from the Portal to Sarah Arnsmeier, Academic Program Coordinator for the Science Center, arnsmeiersj@beloit.edu

Applications are due on March 20th, 2017. Awards will be made within 2-3 weeks of the application due date.


2017 Projects

Principal Investigator: Rachel Bergstrom
Focus Area: Biology
Project Duration: 8 weeks (June 5-July 28)

Description: (Project #1) In addition to the propagation of electrical signals required for efficient synaptic transmission, the axon provides a highway for the transport of cell surface receptor signals from the synapse back to the neuron cell body and nucleus. The interruption of these signals has been observed in several neurodegenerative diseases. This project will focus on an in vitro model to address the question of cell surface receptor signaling in neurodegeneration, axonal maintenance, and neuronal survival. The students will work together to employ multiple techniques, including tissue culture, fluorescence microscopy, and western blotting, to investigate the role of specific growth factor signal trafficking in neuron survival and neurodegeneration.

Prerequisites: Students must have completed intro-level biology course. Students will be required to work with mice.

Preferred prerequisites:BIOL 237: Cell Biology, BIOL 340: Neuroscience, BIOL 247: Biometrics, and BIOL 289: Genetics.

Number of student positions: 2

Principal Investigators: Rachel Bergstrom
Focus Areas: Biology
Project Duration: 8 weeks (June 5-July 28)

Description: (Project #2) Electroencephalography (EEG) provides insight into brain function via the recording of electrical signals from scalp electrodes. Data in the form of voltages are collected and used to prepare graphical representations of neuronal firing. Using this technology, we are able to observe different brain states in patients. Of interest, EEG is one of the primary methods for analyzing seizure activity, such as that associated with epilepsy. Seizure activity graphs as periods of high-frequency, high-amplitude, or high-frequency/high-amplitude activity in the EEG, and is quite distinct from normal brain function. While even untrained observers are able to quickly appreciate the difference between seizure and normal activity, analysis of EEG isn't always straightforward. We propose to use a computational seizure analysis tool that has been validated in mouse data on human data, to determine if seizures can be identified and characterized in EEG signal. The signal will be analyzed by eye and by computer algorithm to characterize algorithm performance.

Prerequisites: Students must be familiar with basic neuroscience and capable of carefully reading and interpreting graphical data. Computer programming experience is preferable but not required.

Number of student positions: 2

Principal Investigator: Amy Briggs

Focus Areas: Biology
Project Duration: 8 weeks (June 5-July 28)

Description: As sessile organisms without circulating cells, plants must equip every cell with the ability to respond to abiotic and biotic stresses, such as drought and pathogen infection. My lab mainly uses the model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana, to study how plants protect themselves from such stresses. Summer research projects may include: using bioinformatics to analyze Arabidopsis' transcriptional responses to pathogen infection, screening natural variants of Arabidopsis for drought and salt tolerance, and investigating the drought tolerance and pathogen susceptibility of the subsistence tuber, cocoyam (Xanthosoma and Colocasia genuses).

Preferred prerequisites: BIOL 247: Biometrics and BIOL 289: Genetics

Number of student positions:  2

Principal Investigator: Kristin Labby
Focus Area: Biochemistry, Chemistry
Project Duration: 8 weeks (June 5-July 28)

Description: Antibiotic resistance is an evolutionary process that selects for bacterial strains with enhanced capacity to survive in the presence of antibiotic drugs. Studies of resistance of one particular class of antibiotics, the aminoglycosides (AGs), have revealed the presence of a family of enzymes within many bacteria called aminoglycoside modifying enzymes (AMEs). AMEs are responsible for modification and subsequently inactivation of these AG antibiotics. Hundreds of AMEs exist and are potential targets for small molecule inhibition. Due to its clinical prominence, I am interested in synthesizing small molecule inhibitors of one particular AME, AAC(6’). The Biomedical Scholar’s role in this medicinal chemistry project would include organic chemistry synthesis of AAC(6’) inhibitors, over-expression and purification of AAC(6’) protein, and executing biochemical assays of the inhibitors against AAC(6’).

Preferred prerequisites: CHEM 230: Organic Chemistry I and CHEM 235: Organic Chemistry II

Number of student positions: 2

Principal Investigator: Erin Munro Krull
Focus Area: Math, Neuroscience
Project Duration: 8 weeks (June 5-July 28)

Description: Action potential propagation in branching axons. We will explore the relationship between sodium conductance (g_Na) and action potential (AP) propagation. AP propagation in axons is a long outstanding problem, where it is difficult to predict whether an AP will travel across branch points. Sodium conductance directly influences how excitable an axon is, so the higher g_Na is the easier it is for an AP to propagate.Using NEURON software, we will simulate AP propagation in simplified axons. Together, we will try to determine relationship between g_Na and axon geometry that allows propagation. We will then test relationship predictions on real axon geometries downloaded from neuromorpho.org. Preliminary work shows that the sodium conductance may linearly predict AP propagation in axons. This approach may yield key insights into predicting AP propagation in all axons.

Prerequisites: MATH 115: Calculus II, some programming experience.

Number of student positions:  4