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Undergraduate Student Research

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

TCU’s Department of Biology prides itself in making meaningful research experiences available to interested undergraduate students. Students may receive up to six hours of credit for performing independent research in the form of three different courses (BIOL 40803, 40900, 40033), two of which carry writing emphasis credit in the TCU Core Curriculum.  Students may receive funding to support their research by applying to TCU College of Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) Students may receive $500 for travel support by applying for a Murphy Fund grant, named in honor of Dr. Clifford Murphy, a long-time biology faculty member. Undergraduates have made significant contributions to the research programs of the department as evidenced by the following:

  1. Biology undergraduate have won a large number of awards for which they are eligible; most notably, the Boller Award given each year to the Honors Program student with the best presentations during Honors Week.
  2. Undergraduates have served as coauthors on presentations at scientific meetings as well as in scientific publications.

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Kelly Guilbeau Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Mercury contamination of four families of spiders living on pond shorelines
Madelaine Pratt Hannappel Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Methylmercury contamination in mud daubers
Amal Khan and Garrett Wallace Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Methylmercury contamination in terrestrial spider along the Trinity River
Michaela O’Connor Dr. Michael Chumley Immunization against Alzheimer’s disease
Ben Showalter Dr. Matt Hale Finding polymorphisms associated with migration in the rainbow/steelhead trout genomes
Sam Showalter Dr. Matt Hale Examining sex bias in gene expression in the brain tissue of brook trout

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Madeline Bush Dr. Shauna McGillivray Role of the ClpXP protease in antimicrobial resistance in S. aureus
Meg Cooksey Dr. Michael Chumley Isolation of primary microglial cells from the mouse brain
Haley Egan Dr. Marlo Jeffries Sink or swim: Effects of thyroid hormones on the developing fathead minnow immune system
Taylor Hayes Dr. Michael Chumley Can rolipram slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease?
Meriel LeSueur Dr. Marlo Jeffries Another fish in the signaling Sea: The effect of thyroid hormone on the immune function of adult fathead minnows
Gunnar Nystrom Dr. Marlo Jeffries Cause for Concern: Chemical contamination in Kazakhstan’s Syr Darya river and its impacts on fish reproductive health
Christy Smith Dr. Matt Hale Mapping photoreceptor genes in the rainbow trout genome
Kaitlyn Upton Dr. Dean Williams Is the abundance of non-harvester ant insects in the diet of Texas horned lizards related to harvester ant density?

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Courtney Cochran Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Levels of mercury contamination in Gulf of Mexico fish across trophic levels
Sydney DeSpain Dr. Michael Chumley Minimum LPS dose to induce amyloid beta production in aged mouse model
Taylor Hayes Dr. Michael Chumley Resveratrol as a therapeutic agent against amyloid-beta induced oxidative stress
Kyle Lauck Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Methyl mercury contamination in terrestrial spiders
Jacob Malmquist Dr. Marlo Jeffries Effective spawning strategies for producing viable fathead minnow embryos for use in fish embryo toxicity tests
Kate Phillips Dr. Marlo Jeffries Identifying molecular biomarkers of growth inhibition in fathead minnows: Ontogenetic expression profiles and responses to common contaminants
Jake Powell Dr. Michael Chumley Does forced exercise provide a benefit to Alzheimer’s disease similar to voluntary exercise?
Terrul Ratcliff Dr. Michael Chumley The interaction between exercise and increased cerebrospinal fluid flow on amyloid beta clearance from the brain following inflammation
Sruthi Reddy Dr. Michael Chumley The expression of NR4A family nuclear orphan receptors in response to repeated bouts of Poly:IC injections
Eric Reid Dr. Giri Akkaraju Effects of daclatasvir, an inhibitor of hepatitis C viral protein NS5A, on interferon β gene expression
Eleanor Rominger Dr. Michael Chumley Peritoneal B-1 cells offer resistance to LPS-induce amyloid-beta production and may have therapeutic value against Alzheimer’s disease
Alexander Sanders Dr. Michael Chumley Do omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation produced by microglial cellstd>
Kristin Scoggins Dr. Dean Williams Genetic analysis of Texas Horned Lizards in the Fort Worth/Dallas area
Andrew Trinh Dr. Dean Williams Relationship of diet to body size in Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
Julianna West Dr. Giri Akkaraju The effect of HCV NS5A on the degradation of IkB
Hannah Wilkerson Drs. Michael Chumley and Gary Boehm The role of exercise in the anti-inflammatory response of microglial cells from the hippocampus
Emily Williams Dr. Giri Akkaraju The effect of hepatitis C virus non-structural protein NS5A on antiviral gene

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Candler Boortz Dr. Shauna McGillivray Role of ClpX in S. aureus antimicrobial virulence and survival
Michael Chandra Dr. Giri Akkaraju Targeting the estrogen receptor in breast cancer cells with cytotoxic drugs
Jenny Hagemeier Dr. Michael Chumley The effect of β-amyloid on neuron growth and communication
Alexis Medders Dr. Marlo Jeffries Males, masculinity and immunity: A test of the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis in fathead minnows
Mallory Melton Dr. Dean Williams Genetic diversity of Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum) in small Texas towns
Diem Ngo Dr. Shauna McGillivray Overexpression of FtsZ protein in Bacillus Anthracis
Elise Path Dr. Marlo Jeffries Identifying sensitive indicators of thyroid disruption in fathead minnows after exposure to thyroxine and propylthiouracil
Kyle Roush Dr. Marlo Jeffries Enhancing the fish embryo toxicity test: Growth, development abnormalities and gene expression as additional test endpoints

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Laila Abdeljalil Dr. Michael Chumley Effect of high fat and sugar diet on accumulation of brain
amyloid beta and associated cognitive deficits
Ashlyn Courville Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Organic carbon transport by aquatic insect emergence from permanent and temporary ponds
Natalie Farha Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Mercury contamination of spiders at the Lyndon B. Johnson Grasslands
Joan Fernandez Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Potential health risks to songbirds due to mercury contamination in spiders at the Lyndon B. Johnson National
Grasslands
Charlie Gober Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner Differential succession In temporary aquatic ponds In
Fort Worth, TX
Elli Hoge Dr. Giri Akkaraju The effect of Hepatatis C Virus protein, NS5A, on activation of the transport factor, NFkB
Robert Leonard Dr. Mike Misamore Effects of temperature on aarly development of Quagga
Mussels
Jacob Ortega Dr. Michael Chumley Evaluation of the influence of chronic stress on the development of cognitive dysfunction and hallmark Alzheimer’s pathologies
Josey Richards Dr. Giri Akkaraju The effect of Hepatatis C Virus non-structural protein NS5A on the translocation of transcription factors for interferon beta expression
Madison Rogan Dr. Shauna McGillivray Galleria mellonella as an infection model to study the pathogenesis of hydrogen peroxide-sensitive Bacillus anthracis mutants
Alexander Sanders Dr. Mike Chumley The use of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce peripheral LPS-Induced inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease
Kristin Scoggin Dr. Dean Williams Genetic analysis of Texas Horned Lizards in the Fort
Worth/Dallas area
Student Faculty Mentor Project Title
Laurel Gardner Dr. Chumley The affect of 7 days of LPS injections on the amount of pTau in the mouse brain
Mariah Green Dr. McGillivray Inability of mutant Bacillus anthracis to sequester iron from hemoglobin
Troy Gurney Dr. Chumley The effectiveness of the antioxidant pyclen-OH in the
disaggregation of Aβ plaques, reduction of oxidative stress, and restoration of cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease
Hailey Hayes Dr. Chumley The expression of NR4A Family mRNA in the
hippocampus following peripheral Inflammation
Samantha Hodges Drs. Chumley and Boehm The effect of a plant-protein based diet followed by LPS-induced inflammation on amyloid-beta formation and cytokine levels in the brain
Jessica Learned Dr. McGillivray Susceptibility of Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax) to antimicrobial peptides
Jessica Mussatto Dr. Chumley Analysis of amyloid beta clearance in exercised mice following inflammation
Madison Rightley Drs. Chumchal and Drenner Riparian spiders as biosentinels of mercury contamination of fish
Allison Simkins Dr. Akkaraju The effect of curcumin on the TNFa –mediated inflammation pathway
Kyle Szymanski Dr. Akkaraju Investigate the role of NS3/4A protein isolated from Hepatitis C in blocking the innate immune system
Stepanie Turner Dr. Chumley Exercise-induced clearance of amyloid-β mediated by NG2 expressing oligodrendroglial precursor cells
Athanasios Vousas Dr. Akkaraju Screening of plant extracts to identify HCV NS5A inhibitors
Student Faculty Mentor Project Title
Brock Boren Dr. Chumley The role and implications of Eph receptors EphB1 and EphB3 in Alzheimer’s disease
Tanner Campbell Dr. Williams Genetic characterization of a new population of the critically endangered Puerto Rican Crested
Toad
Ceci Canelos Dr. Chumley The effects of ibuprofen administration after lipopolysaccharide injections in prevention of cognitive dysfunction and alleviation of central accumulation of amyloid-beta
Manoj Chelvanambi Dr. Akkaraju Screenin of plant extracts to identify drugs against hepatitis C virus
Sharon Fronk Dr. Williams Diet determination of Texas horned lizards through fecal DNA analysis
Thomas Parnell Dr. Chumley Changes in expression of Alzheimer’s disease-related heat schock proteins following inflammation
Christine Riddle Dr. Chumley The effects of EphB1 and EphB3 proteins on amyloid-beta plaque formation and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Tanner Robertson Dr. Chumley The role NR4A family proteins in the memory enhancement seen in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models treated with Rolipram
Jenelle Salisbury Dr. Chumley Steroidal anti-inflammatories and their role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Elizabeth St. Laurent Dr. Misamore Role of cytoskeleton in early development of the quagga mussel Dreissena bugensis
Nancy Wareing Dr. Akkaraju Anti-inflammatory effect of Curcumin on human embryonic kidney cells
Student Faculty Mentor Project Title
Tariq Alfarra Dr. Misamore Large scale culture of Quagga Mussels larvae
Kevin Claunch Dr. McGillivray Role of LrgAB in susceptibility to antibiotics and antimicrobial peptides in Bacillus anthracis
Nathan Cress Dr. Misamore Effects of sperm/egg concentration ratios on polyspermy blocks in Quagga Mussels
Megan Lewis Dr. Chumchal Insect mediated transfer of aquatic mercury to terrestrial systems
Astrid Linares Dr. Akkaraju Cytotoxic effects of Curcumin on cancer and non-cancer cell lines
Victoria Nettles Dr. Hale Are wing scars and teeth condition reliable indicators of age in bats?
Alison Schildt Dr. Hale Identification of bat species using fecal DNA from Wolf Ridge wind farm
Shannon Speir Dr. Chumchal Determination of methyl mercury (MeHg) movement between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems via stable isotope analysis
Coralee Toal Dr. Akkaraju The effect of hepatitis C protein, NS5A, on the immune response
Nancy Wareing Dr. Akkaraju Anti-inflammatory effects of Cucrumin on human embryonic kidney cells

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Christopher Alonzo Dr. Chumley Mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease drain
Travis Jones Dr. Chumchal Mercury concentrations in four different species of Snapper from the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Mary Martin Dr. Chumley Role of viral inflammation in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Fatima Sahyouni Dr. Hartman DNA sequencing of two candidate Genes of DEET resistance in C. elegans

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Christopher Alonzo

Dr. Chumley

Mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease brain
Sarah Barnard Dr. Misamore Fertilization and early development of the freshwater bivalve Dreissena bugensis
James Barry Dr. Hartman SNP mapping of DEET resistant mutants in Caenorhabditis elegans
Jay Blasingame Dr. Chumley The effects of maternal age on neonatal stem cell number in the mouse hippocampus
Bich Dieu Dr. Misamore Identifying and determining the function of lectin-labeled carbohydrates present on Chlamydomonas mating structures
Akshaya Maller Dr. Akkaraju Screening drugs against the hepatitis C virus protein- NS5A
Mary Martin Dr. Chumley The relationship between the behavorial effects of
antidepressants and hippocampal neurogenesis
Jeffrey Mitchell Dr. Chumley Binding of BODIPY to amyloid peptides in animal tissues
Louis Ndupu Dr. Williams Genetic matching of a biological control agent to the invasive Brazilian peppertree
Yen Phan Dr. Misamore Characterizing mating behavior of Chlamydomonas mutants IDA 5 (mt-) and Fus HA (mt+) and
screening their offspring for cross-over events
Kelsey Shideler Dr. Chumley Role of EphB1 in learning and memory
Kim Tran Dr. Akkaraju Examining the effect of controlled gene expression of Heptatis C Virus NS5A on cell death and the
antiviral response
Christopher Trinh Dr. Chumley Role of EpB1 on the organization of adult hippocampus stem cell niche

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Miraie Wardi Dr. Akkaraju The Effects of Hepatitis C Virus protein NS5A on Apoptosis

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Cory Leach Dr. Williams Origin and founder population size of the invasive swamphen in Everglades National Park, FL
Komitige Hashanthi Perera Dr. Misamore Quantification of gamete activation during fertilization in Chlamydomonas
Karin Ruiz-Roehrs Dr. Williams Locating the source of the Invasive Brazilian peppertree

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

T.J. Calder

Dr. Akkaraju

Utilization of Immunofluorescence to Determine Cellular Protein Interactions with the NS5A
Viral Protein
Chris Case Dr. Hartman RNAi use for testing DEET resistance in C. elegans
Ryan Seaver Dr. Misamore Effects of ultraviolet light on the early developmental stages of the freshwater bivalve Dreissena polymorpha

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

David Antonson

Dr. Hartman

A comparison of survivability due to varying dosages of gamma radiation on diploid, triploid, and tetraploid strains of the nematode work Caenorhabditis elegans
Eric Boudreau Dr. Akkaraju Development of an assay to identify plant-based antivirals which inhibit Hepatitis C virus proteins
Katrina Dorraj Dr. Hartman To determine whether Irgasan-loaded biosilicon possesses time-released properties for possible use in dentrifices
Kelly Greggerson Dr. Misamore Recycling of proteins essential for fertilization in Chlamydomonas
Christina Ta Drs. Couch and Chumchal Detection of mercury in garfish otoliths using a scanning electron microscope

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Micaela Mercer

Drs. Drenner and Pinder

Mercury contamination in different species of fresh market fish

Derrick Nitsche Dr. Drenner Mercury content of commercial canned tuna for feline consumption
Vanessa Peterson Dr. Drenner Analysis of mercury concentration in commercial canned and pouched tuna
Sarah Stack Dr. Hartman Determining the presence of the HbS allele in Central American populations

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

Thushara Galbadage

Dr. Hartman

To determine the genetic effect on metabolic shift as opposed to the metabolic rate effect on lifespan extension of C. elegans (Nematode worms) at lower temperatures

Sarah Stack Dr. Akkaraju Understanding the role of hepatitis C virus proteins in the development of liver cancer

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

David Clifton

Dr. Hartman

How the availability of healthcare and the socioeconomic status of a region influences public opnion concerning healthcare and healtcare professionals

Alejandro D’Brot

Dr. Akkaraju

Identifying potential inhibitors of NS5A, a Hepatitis C virus (HCV) protein that inhibits the antiviral response in cells

Dani McRaney

Dr. Akkaraju

Engineering a cell line to express NS5A in response to an inducing agent

Student

Faculty Mentor

Project Title

David Clifton

Dr. Hartman

How the availability of healthcare and the socioeconomic status of a region influences public opnion concerning healthcare and healtcare professionals

Alejandro D’Brot

Dr. Akkaraju

Identifying potential inhibitors of NS5A, a Hepatitis C virus (HCV) protein that inhibits the antiviral response in cells

Dani McRaney

Dr. Akkaraju

Engineering a cell line to express NS5A in response to an inducing agent