I work in Professor Eileen Laceys lab with a colony of tuco-tucos, which are subterranean rodents in the family Ctenomyidae. Although there are more than 50 species of tuco-tucos in South America, the species I am studying is unique in that they live in groups and related females share a single burrow system. As a result, social relationships between females are very important in this species. I am studying chemical communication between females. Specifically, I am testing the hypothesis that olfactory cues in urine may serve as indicators of individual identity. The results of my work may yield new insights into the role of olfactory communication in the social structure of this unusual species.
The Caucasus Mountains acted as a gateway for early hominids, who migrated into and through these regions, perhaps multiple times. Myshtulagty Lagat (Weasel Cave) is the first intact stratified cave studied in the Caucasus dating from 500,000 years BP to the Holocene. The cave lacks a well-stratified early upper Paleolithic sequence (c. 40.000-30.000 years ago, associated usually with our own species, Homo sapiens sapiens). Tracking Neanderthal climatic adaptations through faunal analysis allows for reconstruction of behavioral and dietary changes providing data imperative to interpreting site use and formation processes. Connections between these relative behavioral adaptations through time will help us to ultimately discover any regional causality of Neanderthal extinction and repopulation of the Eurasian gateway by anatomically modern humans. Ill develop models of regional hominid behavioral processes by addressing the following questions and studying the faunal assemblage from Weasel Cave: What part of the faunal assemblage results from hominid activity? […]
This summer I will be studying the life of Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick (1624-1678) as a case study for understanding the lives of aristocratic women in Early Modern England. Mary Rich is important and intriguing because aspects of her personality and lifestyle simultaneously conformed to and challenged the gender roles in her society. Both in the Countesss semi-independent attitude toward her marriage prospects and in her important role in community affairs in her local community in Essex, she defied traditional gender roles. However, with her conversion to a Puritan lifestyle, she became a model of piety widely regarded throughout her community and throughout England as an ideal woman. These two components of her lifestyle and personality seem somewhat contradictory, and through the use of her extensive manuscripts available on microfilms from the British Library, I will study how Mary Rich herself dealt with these issues and her place in […]
This summer, the aim of my project is to investigate the origin of drug resistance in hospital acquired, multi-drug resistant bacteria. This project challenges the idea that human overuse of antibiotics is dominant in selecting for drug resistance in bacteria, and instead investigates the role of food as the primary source of new drug resistance for bacteria in our body. This is a particularly dangerous and has wide public health implications because of the ability for pathogenic bacteria in hospitals to rapidly acquire new drug resistances. Bacteria can harbor drug resistance through mobile genetic elements such as integrons and plasmids. This summer I will work on identifying such drug-resistance determinants on saprophytic sources and compare those sequences with drug resistant bacteria found in human blood stream infections.
It has been discovered that Curly, the early developmental mutation in Xenopus tropicalis, a frog model for human biology, leads to an abnormal number of Mitotic cells during the cell cycle. The mutant phenotype is possibly due to the abnormal expression of cell cycle factors. Mapping the location allows us to study these factors, creating a greater understanding of cancer. My project focuses on using primers to map the Curly mutation by using a combination of two methods. One involves natural mating between hybrid Curly carriers, and the other generates diploid mutant embryos from only Curly mother DNA, a process called gynogenesis. Testing the fraction of mutants per embryos allows us to calculate the mutation’s genetic location from the centromere.
The basis of sexual reproduction is a perennial topic of interest in evolutionary biology. The rotifer, Brachionus Calyciflorus, is an interesting system to compare sexual and asexual reproduction because it is cyclically parthenogenetic, meaning it alternates between generations produced sexually and asexually. By understanding the mechanisms controlling the timing of sexual reproduction in such organisms, we can better understand how natural selection determines the balance between asexual and sexual reproduction. In this study I look at the contributions of three related factors in determining the proportion of sexually reproducing daughters a female produces. This study aims to answer how birth order, days since mictic egg and generations since mictic egg and/or their interactions, best explains the patterns of mixis inducibility.
T. thermophilus RNase H (TthRNase H) is a protein that is stable at high temperatures. In my project, I will examine how the amino acid sequence of TthRNase H determines its folding properties that lead to its thermostability. To approach this question, I am going to construct two proteins, one containing the core of C. tepidum RNase H (a protein stable at moderate temperatures) and the periphery of TthRNase H and another containing the core of C. tepidum RNase H and the the periphery of E. coli RNase H (a protein stable only at low temperatures). Using CD spectroscopy to analyze these proteins, I hope I will be able to get more insights on folding mechanisms of proteins.