Each year, Lipscomb University awards summer research fellowships to select biology, chemistry and biochemistry undergraduates from the Langford-Yates Endowment for the Advancement of Science. These fellowships enable students to stay on campus over the summer and engage in research with a principal investigator.
Students Jennie Hibma, Derris Dabbs, Rebekah Duke and Bethanne Venkatesan each received a stipend to conduct scientific research accompanied by Lipscomb faculty.
Hibma worked with biology professor Jon Lowrance in her research on the expression of several immune proteins from colon cells when exposed to short chain fatty acids.
“Results of my research will add to our understanding of the general effects of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) on colonic cells, colon health, and how colonic cancers are using the colon microenvironment,” said Hibma.
Dabbs and Bonny Millimaki, associate professor of biology, worked to understand the role of Topoisomerase 2 in neural development, using zebrafish as a model system. They used Crisper/Cas 9 to fully characterize the impact of Top2b on neural development.
Facilitated by Kent Clinger, professor and chair of the chemistry department, Duke synthesized new compounds derived from phenylalanine, similar to ones that have shown potential to treat schizophrenia.
Venkatesan, accompanied by Alan Bradshaw, professor and chair of the physics department, focused on the magnetic fields produced by the electrical signaling of the small intestine.
“Specifically, I was working, and am continuing to develop, a computer model that plots the magnetic field and voltage of a basic dipole source as seen from a receptor in the skin,” said Venkatesan. “In the end, the goal of Dr. Bradshaw’s research is to develop a method by which a magnetic field signature could be used as a diagnostic tool for functional gastric disorders, specifically functional nausea in children and adolescents.”
Despite working throughout the summer, the students expressed a desire to resume their research; each believing that many things are yet to be discovered in their area of study.
Duke made about five phenylalanine compounds and hopes to reach her goal of nine this fall in the Lipscomb Chemistry Department.
With her completed work, Duke said she wants to “grow decent crystals of all my compounds, get them analyzed in Texas, publish an article on all of them, and present at some chemistry conferences.”
The summer on campus exposed students to more than just lab work, they had direct access to the knowledge and expertise of accomplished scientists.
“I had a great time working with and for Dr. Lowrance.” said Hibma. “I was able to learn so much in just one summer with his help in not only understanding my research topic, but also understanding the methods I would be using in my experiments to produce data and results.”
The program gave students a firsthand look into the world of research and allowed each one to pursue their fascination with science.
“This experience deepened my passion for research and I hope to continue to be involved in research while in medical school and throughout my life,” said Venkatesan.
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