From Whitman Internship Grant to Undergraduate Conference

Undergraduate Conference 2015Congratulations to 8 outstanding Whitman students who turned their 2014 Summer Internship Grant experience into exciting, interesting, and very different presentations for the 2015 Undergraduate Conference.

The 8 students are Kathryn Stewart ’15, Meaghan Clark ’15, Wesley Sparagon ’15, Lachlan Johnson ’16, Samuel Curtis ’16, Brynn Walund ’16, Meghan Malloy ’15, and Helen Brown ’15.

Last summer Biology major Kathryn had an internship researching local bee populations under the guidance of Professor Heidi Dobson. Kathryn’s presentation next Tuesday is entitled “Pollen Consumption Patterns in Adult Female Alfalfa Leafcutting Bees” and will give us an insight into the fascinating world of bees, uncovering the relationships between bee nesting and pollen consumption.

Meaghan, also a Biology major, interned at the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, at Oregon State University. As a research intern, she explored how Arctic charr, a species of freshwater fish, are adapted to the extreme north of their distribution. The ultimate goal of her research was to use this information to evaluate how climate change will affect Arctic charr populations. Her presentation “Genetic Differentiation of Circadian Clock Genes in Resident and Migratory Arctic Charr” will tell us more about her findings.

Yet another biology major, Wesley, turned his research-based internship into a presentation at this year’s WUC. At San Francisco State University he investigated the composition and function of symbiotic bacteria associated with the skin of the local salamander species Ensatina eschscholtzii. Next Tuesday we will learn more about this intricate symbiosis, or as Wesley calls it: ” Friends with Benefits: Bacterial Symbionts and Salamander Pathogen Resistance.”

Junior Lachlan, a Psychology major, worked alongside Prof. Pahlke last summer, to develop and carry out every step of the research process for a project on white children’s perceptions of discrimination and privilege. In “Facing the Past: Influences on Attitudes Toward Reparation for Genocide” he will talk about how collective guilt and shame are related to willingness to provide reparations and what implications arise from his findings when advocating social justice.

BBMB major Samuel spent last summer at  the Mitochondria and Metabolism Center, School of Medicine, at the University of Washington. There, he researched the effects of changes in lipid metabolism on muscle function observing different populations of mice exercising on treadmills. His presentation “Run, Mouse, Run! Effects of Increased Fatty Acid Oxidation on Endurance Capacity in Mice” will explain to us how exactly you exercise mice on motorized treadmills and what implications you can draw from his studies when it comes to human phenomena such as diabetes and obesity.

Brynn, another BBMB major, interned at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute. Her research focused on questions of HIV transmission. As an intern Brynn used several new laboratory techniques including sample processing for RNA and RNA expression, and data analysis of this RNA expression data. Her presentation “Modeling Oral Transmission of HIV from Mother to Child in Primates” gives us more insight into different form of HIV transmission and what can be done to ultimately decrease the rate of infected children.

Biology major Meghan had an internship at the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) where she carried out a variety of experiments on arthropod pests that threaten crops grown in Ventura County. The results where then shared with growers to help them manage the pests in environmentally and sustainable ways. Her presentation “Impacts of Several Different Pesticides on a Beneficial Predatory Mite in Commercial Strawberry Production” will teach us more about the two-spotted spider mite and its appetite for strawberries.

Finally, Helen Brown, a senior Psychology major, will talk about her experiences interning at Soccer Without Borders’ (SWB) where she split her time working partially in the Soccer Without Borders office and then coaching soccer to 6th-12th graders. Drawing from her internship, Helen’s presentation “America’s Lost Demographic: The Power of Sport for Immigrant and Refugee Students in High School” will tell us more about how soccer can transform the lives of refugee students navigating the complications of succeeding in US schools.

Congratulations again to these outstanding Whitman students. We are looking forward to your and many other presentations at the 2015 WUC!


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