Mote REU Interns Shine During Research Presentations
Mote REU interns and Mote Marine Laboratory staff gather for the interns' research presentations. From left: REU intern Shan Kasal, Mote Senior Scientist Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, REU interns Marissa Ciesla, Jenny Shoots, Kate Kaiser, Sara Williams, Mallory Steenstrup, Luc Gassie, Jenny Servis, Tauras Vilgalys, Thomas Heiman, Mote College Intern Coordinator Krystle Harvey, REU interns Jake Schoville and Joelle Zambrano.
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Students participating in Mote’s NSF-funded REU Program on Thursday presented posters summarizing the findings of the scientific research projects they developed and undertook during their summer internship at the Lab.
REU stands for Research Experiences for Undergraduates. This prestigious program, created and funded through the National Science Foundation, provides paid internships for undergraduate students. The internships are designed to give students a hands-on opportunity to perform their own scientific research project in a real-life laboratory setting.
During the 10-week program, they are paired with Mote scientists who help mentor them through the program — helping them choose and define their research projects and guiding them as they perform experiments needed to complete the project.
Mote has been a partner institution in the NSF REU Program since 2002.
On Thursday, the 12 students participating in the 2012 REU Program presented their findings during a special poster session at the Lab. Scientific poster sessions are a key avenue that scientists use to present their findings to colleagues during scientific conferences. During these sessions, scientists answer questions about their area of study and about the findings presented in the poster. Mote’s annual REU poster session offers students the opportunity to present their findings and explain them.
“For most of our REU interns, this is the first time they’ve worked side by side with a scientist on a project that is their own – from the creation of a hypothesis, to experimental design, to data analysis, to making conclusions,” said Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, who leads the project along with Dr. Cathy Walsh. “Our REU students experience each step of the scientific method. Sometimes it goes smoothly, sometimes it doesn’t — but they all learn what it’s like to conduct research.”
The following students presented posters on their research during the Thursday afternoon session:
Student and Mentor: Marissa Ciesla, University of South Florida; Dr. Cathy Walsh, mentor
Poster Title: TRAIL Receptor Expression in Transformed versus Normal Cells Exposed to an Epigonal Conditioned Medium
Summary: This project investigated a compound found in sharks for its cell death signaling ability.
Student and Mentor: Luc Gassie, University of Miami; Dr. Gary Kirkpatrick
Poster Title: Particle Flow Analysis through the Cross-Flow Filter in the Optical Phytoplankton Discriminator
Summary: This project examined the filtering system in the red tide detector to see if changes in the filtering can enhance detection of Florida red tide.
Student and Mentor: Thomas Heiman, Prescott College: Dr. Jayne Gardiner
Poster Title: Feeding Behavior of Hatchery-raised and Wild Centropomus undecimalis (common snook)
Summary: The project analyzed video of wild caught and hatchery raised snook to see if feeding behaviors were different.
Student and Mentor: Kate Kaiser, College of St. Benedict; Dr. Kellie Dixon
Poster Title: The Determination of the Capabilities of the C6 Multi-Sensor Platform and Cyclops-7® Sensors
Summary: This project measured the performance of multiple sensors for oil detection.
Student and Mentor: Shan Kasal, Rollins College; Dr. Cathy Walsh
Poster Title: Inflammatory Cytokine Response of PBMCs exposed to PbTx-2 and PbTx-3
Summary: This project examined the cellular response to brevetoxin, the Florida red tide toxin.
Student and Mentor: Jake Schoville, University of Wisconsin-Platteville; Dr. Vince Lovko
Poster Title: Potential biocontrol of Karenia brevis blooms via the parasitoid Amoebophrya sp.
Summary: This project investigated the presence of a parasite that may be a natural predator for Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organism.
Student and Mentor: Jenny Servis, Kalamazoo College; Gretchen Lovewell, MS
Poster Title: Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) Diet Analysis in Florida’s Sarasota Gulf Coast Region
Summary: This project examined the food that Kemp’s ridley sea turtles eat to better understand their food source and habitat needs.
Student and Mentor: Jenny Shoots, Kenyon College; Dr. Kim Ritchie
Poster Title: Bacterial shifts during spawning of the Caribbean coral, Porites astreoides
Summary: This study investigated whether a Caribbean coral undergoes changes to its bacterial community during spawning.
Student and Mentor: Mallory Steenstrup, Warren Wilson College; Dr. Emily Hall
Poster Title: Ocean Acidification Effects on Coral Mucus Bacterial Composition and Properties
Summary: Antibacterial properties of coral may play a vital role in their growth and survival and it would be beneficial to determine if more acidic conditions and rising temperatures will inhibit these properties.
Student and Mentor: Tauras Vilgalys, Loyola Marymount University; Dr. Nick Whitney
Poster Title: Quantifying Dive Behavior in Blacktip Sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus)
Summary: Using accelerometer technology allows for the differentiation of dive types and behaviors, the first step toward a more comprehensive understanding of shark behavior, metabolic expenditure and ecological role.
Student and Mentor: Sara Williams, College of William and Mary; Dr. Erinn Muller
Poster Title: How does the spatial distribution of M. annularis and M. faveolata impact Caribbean yellow band disease dynamics?
Summary: It is important to understand the spatial patterns of the susceptible corals in order to better understand potential pathogen sources and other potential factors that can impact the spread of the disease.
Student and Mentor: Joelle Zambrano, High Point University; Dr. Jen Yordy
Poster Title: Isolation of the bioactive molecules from the shark epigonal conditioned media (ECM) exhibiting growth inhibitory activity against mammalian tumor cell lines.
Summary: If the specific molecules responsible for the bioactivity of ECM can be isolated and identified, they could potentially lead to the development of new cancer treatments.