St. Mary’s College of Maryland student Danielle Spaulding ’20 was awarded a research grant from the Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research Program for her research titled “Can Glyphosate and Polyethoxylated Tallowamine Inhibit Cytochrome P450 Enzymes?” Spaulding, who is a double major in biology and chemistry, is pursuing this research question for her St. Mary’s Project (SMP) under the guidance of Shanen M. Sherrer, assistant professor of biochemistry. Her work, which stems from summer research conducted in 2019 with a St. Mary’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is investigating the biochemical consequences of glyphosate, an active ingredient of herbicides such as Roundup®. The enzyme studied is important for drug metabolism. Results from Spaulding’s SMP can help provide new insights on negative health outcomes after herbicide exposure.
SMCM International Languages & Cultures students Kathleen (Katie) Gross, Alejandra Diaz, Rachel Yates, Alana Demones and Katherine Kempton presented their research projects at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA, held from April 10-13, 2019. Katie Gross and Rachel Yates were awarded the Geneva Boone Award to support presenting their St. Mary’s Projects (SMP) at the conference. The Geneva Boone Award for Outstanding St. Mary’s Projects is given annually to support students who will present work from their SMP to a wider audience beyond the College.
NCUR is an annual conference promoting undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity done in partnership with faculty or other mentors and is sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). As part of SMCM’s enhanced institutional membership with CUR, all students, staff, and faculty can become members and have access to CUR publications, webinars, and reduced rates for conferences and events such as NCUR.
Katie Gross’s SMP is titled: “Racial Discourse and Why it Matters: White Privilege, Race and Colorblindness in France and America”. Alejandra Diaz presented: “The Cultural, Economic and Educational Impact in Latin America of Technology in the Age of Globalization: Latin America as Adopter and Agent of Technology Development”. Rachel Yates’s SMP is called: “The Académie française vs. Anglicism: Franglais and the politics of language in France’s Fifth Republic”. Alana Demones is researching: “Black and White: How language reflects Colorism in China”, while Katherine Kempton’s SMP is titled: “I am from the Gutter Too”: Institutions, Power, and Identity Formation in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables”.
Dr. Brandon Guernsey, Visiting Assistant Professor of French, stated that the International Languages & Cultures Department is very proud of these students’ accomplishments – a sentiment broadly and strongly shared across campus. Keep up the great work!!
St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) student Katie Robey was selected to receive a research grant for her SMP by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society. Sigma Xi’s mission is to help foster the next generation of researchers and that is what they have done for Katie. With her SMP titled “Antidepressant Efficacy of L-655,708 Following Infusion into the Medial Prefrontal Cortex”, she hopes to uncover more about the neural circuitry that is responsible for the etiology of depression.
Katie’s project measures baseline depressive-like behavior by the novelty-suppressed feeding test, social interaction test, sucrose preference test, and open field test in a rodent model of depression. Robey will surgically implant treatment animals with guide cannulas and they will receive direct infusions into the medial prefrontal cortex of either the L-655,708 antidepressant or the drug vehicle. The drug vehicle is the solvent used to transport the drug into the system and when delivered on its own, serves as an experimental control. Robey hypothesizes that rats receiving L-655,708 will show significantly reduced depressive behavior when compared to the control group. All research involving vertebrate animals must be approved by the St. Mary’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
Robey, a biochemistry major and neuroscience minor, is working with fellow student Brooke Steinhoff ’19 under the guidance of Professor of Psychology Aileen Bailey. When asked about her research Robey stated: “I have been doing research with the same fast-acting antidepressant (L-655,708) for a couple of years and have studied its effect on several brain regions including the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens”. However, she wanted to extend the investigation by also looking into the medial prefrontal cortex since that region of the brain also plays a role in reward processing. Ultimately, the goal of Robey and collaborators’ research is to identify a safe, fast-acting antidepressant without the negative side effects of other alternatives.
Robey hopes that after she graduates from SMCM, additional future SMP students will continue working with L-655,708 in order to help further expand our understanding of its efficacy as a fast-acting antidepressant.
This article was written by St. Mary’s College of Maryland student and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Fellow Mackenzie Brooks ’21.
Two SMCM students were recently awarded Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) Undergraduate Research Grants to help fund their St. Mary’s Projects. Brooke Steinhoff was awarded $500 for her SMP titled: “Evaluating the efficacy of L-655, 708 direct injection into the medial prefrontal cortex”. Steinhoff is working in Professor of Psychology Aileen Bailey’s lab.
Livia’s Schuller was also awarded $500 from TriBeta to help fund her SMP: “Effect of migration distance on body condition and response to physiological stressors in White-throated Sparrows”. Schuller is working with Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Malisch.
Two students conducting their St. Mary’s Project research with Dr. Aileen Bailey, professor of psychology and Aldom-Planseon Honors College Professor, have received grants to support their work. Marilyn Steyert was recently awarded a $918 grant through the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society to support her research and in recognition of her academic achievement. A graduating senior, Marilyn is majoring in Biology, with minors in Neuroscience and Music. She is continuing past research on the project entitled “Understanding the action of novel fast-acting antidepressant, L-655,708 in the brain” under the guidance of Dr. Bailey. Another student working on research in Dr. Bailey’s lab is graduating senior Max Madden, a double major in Biochemistry and Psychology. He has received $1,500 in funding through the Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Grant to support his St. Mary’s Project: “Examination of the Mechanism of the Fast Acting Antidepressant L-655,708.” Since July 2015, Dr. Bailey’s research lab has been primarily funded by the National Institutes of Health, via a subaward with University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Using rats as test subjects, Marilyn and Max are analyzing the effects of a specific drug on synapse strength within neurons in certain areas of the brain. The grant money received from Sigma Xi is being used to visualize and study certain proteins within cells. Changes in behavior and synaptic strength will be analyzed to see the effects of L-655,708 in the rats brain. Marilyn hopes to show the potential of this drug for future use in humans, due to its rapid neurological changes in rats. As with all research conducted on vertebrate animals at St. Mary’s College, Marilyn and Max’s work was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
Marilyn is the President of Tri Beta, the Biological Honor Society at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and is also involved in BioPump, a program that supports Biology students’ academic success. After graduation, Marilyn hopes to continue her academic education and become a professor. Max was a member of the St. Mary’s men’s Swim Team and plans to continue his education in graduate school after leaving St. Mary’s College. Marilyn and Max are two of many talented students to receive a grant through an honor society here at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Kudzu is an aggressive invasive plant species found all across the United States, including on the campus of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Research has shown that goats can be used as an effective biological control agent against kudzu.
This was the focus of a St. Mary’s Project (SMP) by Brooke Bartko ’16. Bartko’s research aimed to manage the invasive species in a way consistent with the College’s sustainability efforts, while educating the community about biological control. Her faculty mentor was Professor of Biology Robert Paul. [Read more…]