Catherine Welsh Smith Research Award
The Catherine Welsh Smith Award in Biological Sciences recognizes outstanding achievement in biological research by a junior or senior majoring in Biological Sciences. The award committee selects the winner from nominations from faculty of students who have displayed talent for research, including initiative, independence, and the ability to design and carry out experiments.
Sihui Yang, a graduating Biological Science major, has worked in Dr. Noel’s lab on a respiratory rhizobium mutant that lacks nitrogen fixation. In her studies on this rhizobium mutant, she found that the lack of nitrogen fixation is primarily due to lack of an enzyme in the bacteroids that catalyzes the nitrogen fixation reaction, namely the nitrogenase. Her research indicates the overall protein production in the mutant bacteroids is also decreased, which at least partially account for the lack of nitrogenase in the mutant bacteroids. To account for this observation of a generalized decrease in protein production, they hypothesize that ATP generation is reduced in the mutant bacteroids. After graduation, Sihui will pursue graduate studies in the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Cell and Molecular Biology Ph.D. Program. She hopes to ultimately pursue a career in science research.
The Department of Biological Sciences Research Award in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology recognizes outstanding achievement in research by a junior or senior majoring in the Biological Sciences Department. The award committee selects the winner from nominations from faculty of students who have displayed talent for research, including initiative,independence, and the ability to design and carry out experiments on their own, and from an abstract submitted by the student.
For the past two years Melissa Budelier has studied the structure and function of pyruvate carboxylase (PC) in the laboratory of Dr. Martin St. Maurice. While Melissa has worked on a few different projects, the majority of her time has been spent investigating the interactions between the biotin carboxyl carrier protein (BCCP) and the carboxyl transferase (CT) domains of Rhizobium etli PC. These studies were performed by creating various combinations of active and inactive CT-BCCP/CT domain heterodimers and analyzing their function via steady-state kinetics. After graduation, Melissa will be pursuing her PhD in Biochemistry within the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
The Department of Biological Sciences Research Award in Physiological Sciences recognizes outstanding achievement in research by a junior or senior majoring in the Biological Sciences Department. The award committee selects the winner from nominations from faculty of students who have displayed talent for research, including initiative,independence, and the ability to design and carry out experiments on their own, and from an abstract submitted by the student.
Laura Mark, a senior studying Physiological Sciences and Spanish, studies the effects of exercise training on the rat heart in Dr. Fitts’s lab. Specifically, Laura’s research centers on the electrical remodeling of the cardiac action potential following prolonged exercise training in both the whole heart and single cell model. After graduation, Laura will continue her research until August, when she will head to Central America to work as an interpreter and travel. In the future, Laura hopes to pursue a career in the health professions with a focus on serving Spanish-speaking populations.
The Biological Sciences Academic Achievement Award recognizes the outstanding academic achievement in the Biological Sciences Department by a senior majoring in Biological Sciences, Physiological Sciences, or Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. The award committee selects the winner based on a cumulative GPA of 3.50 and above, the student’s sciences GPA, and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.
In the Anderson Lab, Joseph Burclaff has been focusing on the Mtr4 protein, an ATP dependent helicase that acts as part of the TRAMP (Trf4/Air2/Mtr4p Polyadenylation) complex which is active in RNA surveillance and degradation. Joseph’s project has focused on characterizing the K904N point mutation within the C-Terminal domain of the protein, about which little is known. Through growth assays, northern blotting, and tetrad dissection, his research has indicated that the K904N mutation has a significant effect on the protein in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, lowering its ability to process RNA. Further work is being completed to determine how the mutation is compromising the protein's function on a molecular level, and this could shed light onto the function of the entire c-terminal domain. Joseph will be attending the doctoral program in Developmental, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology at Washington University in St Louis this fall.
The Gold Medal Award is given to the graduating senior or seniors with the highest cumulative grade point average. Of the many awards recognizing academic achievement by students in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, none speaks so clearly of the recipient’s intelligence, commitment to studies, academic discipline and extraordinary passion to learn. The Department of Biological Sciences would like to recognize two of these award winners, Megan Mohnen and Abigail Searfoss. Megan is a biological sciences major, and Abigail has been actively involved in research in Dr. Martin St. Maurice's lab.
Megan Mohnen, from Clintonville, Wisconsin, will receive a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Biological Sciences. Megan was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the Pre-Professional/Medical Honor Society and has conducted laboratory research in Biological Sciences. She is a member of Pure Dance Marquette and plans to attend Medical School after graduation.
Abigail Searfoss, from Maryville, Tennessee, will receive a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Physics and a minor in Chemistry. She plans to attend graduate school in the fall. Abigail is a founding member and President of the Women in Physics Club and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society.
Of the 47 Marquette students elected to Phi Beta Kappa this spring, 11 are majors from the Department of Biological Sciences. Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious honor society in the U.S. and today there are 280 chapters at American college and universities across the country. Marquette was granted a charter for its Zeta chapter of Wisconsin in 1971. One of the activities of the chapter is to sponsor visiting scholars for presentations at participating universities. The Department of Biological Sciences sponsored Dr. Lynn Margulis (University of Massachusetts) in 1989 and Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz (Cal Tech) in 2005.
2013 Biological Sciences Phi Beta Kappa Inductees: Melissa Budelier, Joseph Burclaff, Alyssa Digilio, Ashley Jacobson, Kimberly Leroy, Laura Mark, Megan Mohnen, Sneha Shah, Catharine Skoog, Sihui Yang, and Keline Yoshimura.
Megan Mohnen, a senior Biological Sciences major, and a Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Gold Medal Award recipient, was awarded the V. Duane Rath Merit Scholarship, which provides a full-tuition scholarship for the Medical College of Wisconsin. This scholarship is awarded to a Wisconsin resident who has demonstrated outstanding potential for success in medical school. Megan has been an active member of the biological sciences department, conducting research in the labs of Dr. Jane Dorweiler her freshman year, Dr. Ed Blumenthal her sophomore year, and Dr. Allison Abbott her junior and senior years. She has contributed to published papers as an undergraduate and has demonstrated exceptional academic achievement.