Student Honors Research: 2010 - 2014

Amherst's Biology Department has a long tradition of active research by its faculty and participation of senior majors and other students in this research. Biology majors who enter the Honors Program devote about half of their academic effort during the senior year to research, and the resulting thesis is often the basis of their first scientific publication.

Class of 2014

Anagho, Holda. Setting up a system for the high-throughput stress resistance screening of Caenorhabditis elegans small rna mutants using the automatic lifespan machine.  Advisor: Yan Qi

Aoyama, Julien. Characterization of aph-1(zu147) suppression by removing rnf-5 in c. elegans: Possible γ-secretase misassembly defects. Advisor: Caroline Goutte

Aziz-Bose, Razina. Elucidating the role of the met channel in hair cell encoding using channelrhodopsin-2.  Neuroscience. Advisor: Josef Trapani

Blank, Caitlin. Evolutionary consequences of the loss of self-incompatibility in the widespread species Lycium carolinianum. Advisor: Jill Miller

Cho, Se Yeon. Preferences of Eulampis jugularis as a mechanism for floral trait divergence in two color morphs of Heliconia caribaea Advisor: Ethan Temeles

England, Christina. An experimental test of the antioxidant role of carotenoids in the convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). Advisor: Ethan Clotfelter

Finch, Christopher. Activation of the cAMP Phosphodiesterase RegA in D. discoideum. BCBP. Advisor: David Ratner

Fredrick, Thomas. Diversity and selection at a self-incompatibility locus in the genus microbotryum. Advisor: Michael Hood

Hamati, Fadi. Diacylglycerol: A quantitative study of enzyme-mediated changes in er morphology. Advisor: Dominic Poccia

Hoffmann, Claire. Coloration, competition, and mate choice in the convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata): investigating the sensory drive hypothesis. Advisor: Ethan Clotfelter

Iyengar, Varun. Characterizing spontaneous hair-cell neurotransmission and spike encoding in the zebrafish lateral-line system. Neuroscience. Advisor: Josef Trapani

Kerr, David. Reconstitution of C. elegans gamma-secretase: Notch substrates and presenilin expression. BCBP. Advisor: Caroline Goutte

Kim, Joseph. Investigating the intersection of terminal differentiation and ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis: first steps to the creation of a pkar-/fbxa- double knockout strain of Dictyostelium discoideum. Advisor: David Ratner

Newman, Jennifer. Does pollinator competition lead to floral divergence?: eulampis jugularis and its effects of the two color morphs of Heliconia caribaea.  Advisor: Ethan Temeles

Park, Michelle. Using next-generation sequencing to understand the phylogeographic relationships among populations of Lycium carolinianum. Advisor: Rachel Levin

Reighard, Charles.  A structure-function analysis of rab3-interacting molecule (rim) at the Drosophila melanogaster neuromuscular junction. Neuroscience. Advisor: Ethan Graf

Servos, Mariah. Investigating the effect of the acetate switch on Vibrio cholerae virulence in the model host Drosophila melanogaster. Advisor: Alexandra Purdy

Surujon, Defne. Creating an rdeA-/fbxA- double knockout to investigate intracellular signalling processes in Dictyostelium discoideum. BCBP. Advisor: David Ratner

Tyler, Paul. Investigating CrbS-mediated signaling in two non-O1/O139 strains of Vibrio cholerae. Advisor: Alexandra Purdy

Walker, Lisa. Lipid and calcium contributions to membrane fusion. BCBP. Advisor: Dominic Poccia

Wolf, Monroe. The effect of sympatry on interspecific competition among pathogens. Advisor: Michael Hood

Class of 2013

Bae, Haneui.  The role of Rab3-GEF in the organization of the synapse and the localization of Rab3 at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. Neuroscience. Advisor: Ethan Graf

Biche, William. Site-directed mutagenesis in Dnf-1 and Dnf-2: determining the mechanism of a phospholipid transporting P4 ATPase. BCBP. Advisor: Patrick Williamson

Browning-Kamins, Jenna. Controlling Zebrafish lateral-line hair cells with light.  Neuroscience. Advisor: Josef Trapani

Cahn, Matthew. Structural and pigmentary trade-offs in the carotenoid signal of convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). Advisor: Ethan Clotfelter

Choi, Sara. Trade-offs in carotenoid-based signals: investigating the effects of pathogens and parasites on carotenoid-based coloration of convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). Advisor: Ethan Clotfelter

Daigle, Heather. An exploration of protein-protein interaction sites: an investigation into potential residues of interaction between P4ATPases and essential Cdc50 family subunits in S. Cerevisiae. Advisor: Patrick Williamson

Farnow, Cassandra. Comparing HOP-1 and SEL-12 gamma secretase activation of constitutive notch receptors in C. elegans. Advisor: Caroline Goutte

Gendelman, Hannah. A structure-function analysis of Rab3 and its involvement in neuromuscular junction protein localization. Advisor: Ethan Graf

Ha, Nguyen. Dendra2 dissociation assay: testing dissociation between P4-ATPases and Cdc50-family subunit during reaction cycle. Neuroscience. Advisor: Patrick Williamson

Haswell, Josh.  The maintenance of self-incompatibility in the polyploidy Lycium californicum.  Advisor: Jill Miller

Jackson, Emily. Characterization of notch signaling in C. elegans embryos with and without SAO-1 using notch reporter transgenes.  Advisor: Caroline Goutte

Kahan, Mark.  Analysis of pollinator preferences of Eulampis jugularis and floral divergence in red and yellow morphs of Heliconia caribaea. Advisor:  Ethan Temeles

Kahng, Peter. Investigating the role of diacylglycerol in cortical granule–plasma membrane fusion in sea urchin oocytes. Advisor: Dominic Poccia.

Kundu, Aupola. Lipids with negative spontaneous curvature contribute to endoplasmic reticulum morphology. Neuroscience. Advisor: Dominic Poccia.

Murithi, James.  Assaying for cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (RegA) Activity in Dictyostelium discoideum strains. Advisor:  David Ratner

Newman, Julia.  Resource competition as a mechanism of floral trait divergence in two color morphs of Heliconia caribaea.  Advisor:  Ethan Temeles

Ota, Mizuho. Investigating the role of histidine kinases in the regulation of multicellular development in D. discoideum: phenotypic analysis of dhkA- and dhkC- in an fbxA- background. Advisor:  David Ratner

Rasmussen, Anna. Investigating the role of a two-component pathway in two non-toxigenic strains of Vibrio cholerae using Drosophila melanogaster as a model host. Advisor: Alexandra Purdy

Scott, Elizabeth (Molly).  Evidence for the novel divergence of a tetrapolar breeding system in the fungal genus Microbotryum. Advisor: Michael Hood.

West, Zachary. Investigating C. elegans presenilins in reconstituted gamma secretase in yeast. Advisor: Caroline Goutte

White, Antoineen. Biogeography and allelic diversity at S-RNase mating system gene in Lycium carolinianum. Advisor: Jill Miller

Yee, Sarah. The consequences of hybridization and competition of pathogen interactions. Advisor: Michael Hood.

Class of 2012

Alvarado, Jorge. CMF41 Localization and Calcium Binding in Trypanosoma brucei. Neuroscience. Advisor: Amy Springer

Belkin, Nathan. TMEM16F: Determining the Role of TMEM16F in Ca2+ Activated Scrambling Activity. Advisor: Patrick Williamson. Winner of the Oscar E. Schotte Scholarship Prize.

Cameron, Kimona. Nests as Potential Indicators of Male Quality in the Fighting Fish Betta splendens. Advisor: Ethan Clotfelter

Chen, Shirui. Structure-Function Analysis of Rab3’s Effect on Bruchpilot Localization and Rab3 Localization. Neuroscience. Advisor: Ethan Graf

Eppler-Epstein, Rebecca. Investigating RNF-5, ERAD and UPR as Possible Modulators of y-secretase Activity in C. elegans. Advisor: Caroline Goutte

Fan, Yunxi (Emily). The Role of Rab3 in Maintaining Active Zone Protein Composition at Adult Drosophila Neuromuscular Junctions. Neuroscience. Advisor: Ethan Graf

Gnirke, Marlis. Establishment of a FLAG-tagged Ubiquitin Detection System in Dictyostelium discoidium: The Search for Ubiquitinated RegA Continues. Advisor:  David Ratner

Hwang, Songmin (Mindy). Suppressed Recombination and Accumulation of Transposable Elements in the Sex Chromosomes of the Anther-Smut Fungus Microbotryum violaceum. Advisor: Michael Hood

Jung, Roy. Genetic Screen for Interactions with the Rab3 Phenotype in D. melanogaster. Neuroscience. Advisor: Ethan Graf
Keyes, Edmund (TJ). Lycium minimum (Solanaceae): Evolutionary History of a (Possibly) Morphologically Dimorphic Galapagos Endemic. Advisor: Jill Miller

Kreines, Fabiana. Shedding Light on Adaptation: Using Channelrhodopsin to Study Adaptation in Hair Cells of the Zebrafish Lateral Line. Neuroscience. Advisor: Josef Trapani

Larios, Rose. The Role of Resource Competition Between Sexes of Purple-Throated Caribs in Divergence of Heliconia Caribaea. Advisor:  Ethan Temeles

LaRose, Meredith.
The Selective Foraging Behavior of Eulampis Jugularis at Heliconia caribaea and Heliconia bihai. Advisor: Ethan Temeles

Li, Grace. Tracing the Afferent Projections of the Posterial Lateral Line in Zebrafish. Neuroscience. Advisor: Josef Trapani

Lim, Sooyoung. Creating dhkC-/fbxA– Double Knockout Mutants to Analyze Interactions within Dictyostelium discoideum’s Histidine Kinase and Ubiquitination Pathways. Advisor:  David Ratner

Mavodza, Constancia. Comparison of Early Versus Late Eggs from Various Maternal Genotypes in C. elegans Hermaphrodites. Neuroscience. Advisor: Caroline Goutte

McCormick, Awah-Lem Atanga. Historical Biogeography, Taxonomic Classification, and Mating Systems of Lycium carolinianum. Advisor: Jill Miller

O’Keeffe, Kayleigh. Allelic Diversity at the S-RNase Mating System Gene of Lycium carolinianum. Advisor: Jill Miller

Parsons, Matthew. Study of IC138, a Putative Inner Arm Dynein Protein in Trypanosoma brucei and Casein Kinase, a Putative Modulator of IC138. Advisor: Amy Springer

Rizzo, Livia. Investigating the Role of Melanin in the Immune System Response to Infection. Advisor: Ethan Clotfelter

Roh, Junyeop (Daniel). An Investigation into the Role of the Subunit in Determining Flippase Transport Specificity. Neuroscience. Advisor: Patrick Williamson
Silver, Casey. Hybridization and its Genomic Consequences in Natural Populations of Microbotryum Fungal Pathogens on Dianthus Host Plants. Advisor: Michael Hood. Winner of the Oscar E. Schotte Award and William C. Young Prize.

Stone, Alex. Phenotypic Characterizations of Site Directed Mutants of Dnf-2: Locating a Phospholipid Binding Site Involved in the P4 ATPase Pumping Cycle. Neuroscience. Advisor: Patrick Williamson

Sullivan, Melissa. Carotenoid Trade-offs?:  The Effects of Dietary Carotenoids on Gonadosomatic Indices, Gonadal Antioxidant Capacity and Sperm Performance in the Male Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). Advisor: Ethan Clotfelter

Wang, Alan. A Role for Diacylglycerol in Endoplasmic Reticulum Morphology and Nuclear Envelope Assembly. Advisor: Dominic Poccia. Winner of the Oscar E. Schotte Award.

Yoo, Nina.
Reconstitution of C. elegans SEL-12 based and HOP-1 based Gamma Secretase Complexes in Yeast. Advisor: Caroline Goutte

Zambetti, Luke. Detailed Characterization of IC138 RNAi Knockdown in Trypanosoma brucei. Advisor: Amy Springer

Class of 2011

Ayaz, Muddasir. Inhibiting nuclear envelope formation in fertilized Lytechinus pictus sea urchin eggs through application of the PLC inhibitor U-73122.  Neuroscience. Advisor: Professor Dominic L. Poccia

Chang, Alex.  Study of IC138, the tagged putative inner arm dynein of Trypanosoma brucei .  Advisor: Professor Amy L. Springer.

Chatzidimitriadou, Zinovia. Relationship of the endoplasmic reticulum and MV1 vesicles during nuclear envelope formation in the sea urchin Lytechinus pictus.  Advisor: Professor Dominic L. Poccia

Cohoon, Travis. Development of a cDNA complementation screen for Bacillus subtilis-sensitve mutants of Dictyostelium discoideum.  Advisor: Professor David I. Ratner

Fang, Victoria. Mapping ik-4, a suppressor of aph-1 (zu147) embryonic lethality and identifying Its corresponding gene in C. elegans.  Advisor: Professor Caroline E. Goutte

Fink, Emma. Reconstituting C. elegans gamma secretase in yeast.  Advisor: Professor Caroline E. Goutte

Garmezy, Benjamin. Creation of an rdeA knockout vector to investigate the intersection of signaling pathways in Dictyostelium discoideum.  Advisor: Professor David I. Ratner

Gold, Benjamin. The effect of Rab3-GEF and Rab3-GAP on the distribution of Bruchpilot at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction.  Neuroscience. Advisor: Professor Ethan R. Graf

Greskovich, Caitlin. Comparison of sel-12 and hop-1 presenilin function in germline development of C. elegans.  Advisor: Professor Caroline E. Goutte

Horns, Richard. The genome in conflict: coevolution of transposable elements and the repeat-induced point mutation genome defense.  Advisor: Professor Michael E. Hood

Jensen, Andrea. Functional characterization and expression of CMF63, a putative calcium binding protein in Trypanosoma brucei.  Advisor: Professor Amy L. Springer

Kamath, Ambika. The evolution of floral morphology accompanying the transition from cosexuality to gender dimorphism in Lycium californicum.  Advisor: Professor Jill S. Miller

Kim, Jennifer. Effects of 17α-ethinyl estradiol on neurotransmitter activity, male-male aggression, and spawning success in the fighting fish, Betta splendens.  Advisor: Professor Ethan D. Clotfelter

Lapidus, Sarah. The effect of temperature and hypoxia stress on antioxidant defenses and oxidative damage in the fathead minnow Pimephales promelas . Advisor: Professor Ethan D. Clotfelter

Leyman, Sarah. Investigating carotenoid trade-offs: coloration versus immunity and antioxidant capacity in convict cichlids (amatitlania nigrofasciata) Advisor: Professor Ethan D. Clotfelter

Mehta, Swapnil. An investigation into P4-ATPase phylogeny and the putative binding sites underlying Dnf1 interaction with Lem3.  Neuroscience. Advisor: Professor Patrick L. Williamson

Mellis, Ian. Phylogenetic analysis of the RNAseIII-related genes drnA and drnB of Dictyostelium discoideum and first steps toward creation of a drnB null strain. Interdisciplinary. Advisor: Professor David I. Ratner

Rah, Yoon. Mechanisms of selection in sympatric species of H. caribaea and H. bihai .  Advisor: Professor Ethan J. Temeles

Thakur, Saumitra. Exploring a potential role for DAG generation in cortical granule – plasma membrane fusion in sea urchin oocytes.  Neuroscience. Advisor: Professor Dominic L. Poccia

Toy, Morgan. Investigation of phenotypic variance and patterns of mitochondrial inheritance among hybrids of Microbotryum violaceum.  Advisor: Professor Michael E. Hood

Vega, Kevin. Factors influencing variation in disease prevalence within the genus silene.  Advisor: Professor Michael E. Hood

Wright, Christina. Rim regulates calcium channel localization at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. Neuroscience. Advisor: Professor Ethan R. Graf

Zukas, Randi. Structural analysis of the DNAH10 knockdown in Trypanosoma brucei.  Advisor: Professor Amy L. Springer

Class of 2010

Allen, Victoria Wing.  Temperature-Sensitive Mutants of Dictyostelium discoideum: Trouble-Shooting for a cDNA Suppressor Screen (Advisor: Prof. Ratner). 

Arbogast, Phoebe Mark.  Start Codon Mutations in C. elegans Can be Supressed by Inactivation of Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay (Advisor: Prof. Goutte).  Winner of the Oscar E. Schotte Award.

Barmettler, Gabi.  Nestling Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) as Bioindicators of Mercury Deposition in the Pioneer Valley Massachusetts (Advisor: Prof. Clotfelter). 

Beck, Thomas Ray.  Phylogeography of Lycium californicum: Intraspecific Variation in Sexual System and Ploidy Level (Advisor: Prof. Miller).

Farkas, Cameron Elizabeth.  Intrinsic and Extrinsic Barriers to Emergent Hybrid Pathogens (Advisor: Prof. Hood).

Guha, Pallabi.  Exploring the Functionality of the EF-Hand Motif of Protein CMF 63 in Flagellar Motility in Trypanosoma brucei (Neuroscience, Advisor: Prof. Springer).

Giller, Geoffrey Seth Jarret. 
The Female Purple-Throated Carib (Eulampis jugularis) and Pollinator-Mediated Selection in a Highly-Specialized Tropical Plant, Heliconia bibai (Advisor: Prof. Temeles).

Howard, Clare Elisabeth.  Characterization of a sao-1 Deletion Allele in C. elegans: New Clues About its Developmental Function (Neuroscience, Advisor: Prof. Goutte).

Machado, Sulynn
.  Functional Characterization of a Putative Inner Arm Dynein Protein in Trypanosoma brucei  (Advisor: Prof. Springer).

Montgomery, Tracy Michelle.  The Effect of 17α-Ethinyl Estradiol on Reproductive Endpoints in Betta splendens (Advisor: Prof. Clotfelter).

Parker, Esteban Leiva.  Interactions Between P4-Type Transporters and Subunits in Ashbya gossypii (Advisor: Prof. Williamson).

Resnick, Rebecca May. Analysis of a Functional Difference Between the C. elegans Presenilin Proteins HOP-1 and SEL012 (Advisor: Prof. Goutte).

Rivera, Ashley Marie.  Flow Cytometric Analysis of Nuclear Envelope Precursor Vesicles (Neuroscience, Advisor: Prof. Poccia).

Stolk, Shaylon Blair. 
Specialization in Action: Pollinator-Mediated Selection on Heliconia Caribaea by the Hummingbird Eulampis jugularis (Advisor: Prof. Temeles).

Thein, Thuzar.  Investigation of RegA as a Ubiquinated Target of FbxA During Dictyostelium discoideum Development (Neuroscience, Advisor: Prof. Ratner).

Tsareva, Alina.  Interactions Between Lem3p Mutants and P4-Type ATPases of S. cerevisiae (Neuroscience, Advisor: Prof. Williamson).

Last Updated:
5 May 2014 TLR



McGuire Life Sciences Building