Students and faculty collaborate on research during the summer science institute
To the untrained eye, it was just an ordinary leaf, a speck in a mass of summer green on the edge of the University of Mary Washington campus.
But one hot July morning, biologist Tessa Lanzafame spotted something interesting, a tiny green caterpillar that appeared to be gnawing. With a snip of the scissors, Lanzafame picked up the leaf and insect, then marked the location on a Google map.
This was part of Lanzafame’s Summer Research with Assistant Professor of Biology Josephine Antwi, one of 19 projects conducted during UMW’s 2022 Summer Science Institute (SSI). The annual 10-week institute, in which students and faculty collaborate on research, ends tomorrow – Wednesday, July 20 – with a public symposium. Student researchers will share their findings via poster or oral presentation from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the digital auditorium at the Hurley Convergence Center.
It’s the 23rdrd program year at Mary Washington. Earlier this summer, UMW introduced the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Summer Institute (AHSSSI) modeled after the Summer Science Institute.
Lanzafame, a Suffolk native who will graduate in 2023, has spent many hours scouring campus for leaf-chewing or gall-making larval insects, then monitoring and documenting their maturation in growth chambers at temperature controlled at the Jepson Science Center.
Together with Antwi, she determines the insect species present and their specific plant hosts. She will continue the research during the academic year, with the eventual aim of a publication.
The ability to publish collaboratively is part of the appeal for participating students, who are typically invited by faculty to apply for specific SSI projects and receive a stipend for their work. Equally important is the ability to do meaningful, professional-quality work under scientifically rigorous conditions.
“Internships are fun, but nothing can really teach you as much as doing a project from start to finish,” said Curtis Kasiski ’22, a Woodbridge native who is working with Antwi to determine the dietary diversity of three species of bumblebees in rural, suburban and urban areas of the Fredericksburg area. “It teaches you so many things that you don’t learn in the lab.”
Student researchers Carolyn Willmore and Talia Tanner seine for Banded Killifish near a Virginia power plant. They worked with Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Tyler Frankel.
Student Shreya Murali studies the death of cancer cells by proton pump inhibitors. She worked with associate professor of chemistry Randall Reif.
Pamela Grothe, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, works with students Emmy Herrity and Jacob Cantor on using coral to assess historical temperature patterns.
This summer, other students are conducting equally challenging and interesting research in various STEM disciplines.
Students selected by a jury for the best research presentation and poster will each receive a scholarship through the John C. and Jerri Barden Perkins ’61 College of Arts and Sciences Student Research Endowment.
This year’s SSI students, their mentor teachers and project titles are:
- Joon Yi, in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jessica Zeitz, “Kinesthetically Teaching Through Computers”
- Shreya Murali, in collaboration with Associate Professor of Chemistry Randall Reif, “Investigation of cancer cell death by proton pump inhibitors”
- Talia Tanner, in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Tyler Frankel, “Assessing the impacts of cadmium on the viability, locomotor behavior and embryonic development of the freshwater Seminole snail Ramshorn (Planorbella duryi)”
- Jenna Diehl, in collaboration with Associate Professor of Mathematics Melody Denhere, “Analyzing Trends in College Majors”
- Jay Boudreau, in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Swati Agrawal, “Combating antibiotic resistance through phage therapy”
- Carrie Garvey, in collaboration with Associate Professor of Chemistry E. Davis Oldham, “Synthesis of KasA enzyme inhibitors to induce tuberculosis cell death”
- Sean Foley, in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Veena Ravishankar, “Applying Socket Programming to Battleship”
- Jacob Cantor, in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Pamela Grothe, “Calibration of a Multicoral Genus Approach for Central Tropical Pacific Climate Reconstruction”
- Lanzafame, in collaboration with Antwi, “A study of herbivorous insects and their associated host plants on the campus of the University of Mary Washington”
- Orianne Mbuyi, in collaboration with Antwi, “Identification of Fungal Strains on Dead Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula): Evidence from DNA sequencing, scanning electron microscopy, qRT-PCR to detect toxin production and laboratory bioassays »
- Kasiski, in collaboration with Antwi, “Determining the dietary diversity of bees of the genus Bombus along an urbanization gradient”
- Stephen McCarthy, in collaboration with Ravishankar, “Application of socket programming in video games”
- Drake Richmond, in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Physics Desmond Villalba, “Constraining Potential Dark Matter Candidates from Relic Abundance and Indirect Detection Signatures”
- Ava Spencer, in collaboration with Grothe, “Comparison of indices of social and environmental vulnerability to summer heat in Fredericksburg, Virginia”
- Lauren Knight, in collaboration with Zeitz, “Bridging the Gap Between Pattern Motion tracking software and Java programming language »
- Carolyn Willmore, in collaboration with Frankel, “Assessing the Presence and Concentration of Trace Metals in Banded Killifish (diaphanous fundulus) and Hydrilla spp. Adjacent to a Virginia Coal Ash Deposit »
- Kevin Leong, in collaboration with Villalba, “Solar powered phone charging stations for the homeless”
- Karlie Jones, working with Denhere, “The Effect of Covid-19 on College Students’ Learning Experience”
- Aber Gadelrab, in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Biology April Wynn, “Pyruvate decarboxylase 3 (PDC3) Expression and morphological measures of Arabidopsis thaliana Roots under waterlogged-hypoxic stress »