Assistant Professor of Biology Kelly O’Quin, along with 12 Centre graduates, are among the co-authors of a paper that has recently been published in the journal BMC Biology. The paper is about the group’s work identifying genetic mutations in mycobacteriophages, viruses that infect soil bacteria, and these mutations’ impact on viral reproduction.
Some of the students were introduced to this research through a first-year studies course, Lab Research in Microbiology, that worked to isolate mycobacteriophages from soil samples they had collected near their homes. Trong Phung (’19), Allysson Becker (’19), and Bailey Horn (’19) isolated DNA from two strains of a virus that Phung had noticed was shifting from temperate to virulent reproduction.
The published paper was ultimately a group effort that involved Centre students and faculty, as well as colleagues at Western Kentucky University. Alumnus Bobby Gaffney (‘05), was also part of the team at Western Kentucky University. Bhavani Gudlavalleti (‘19) conducted independent research and drafted the paper, while several other Centre students, Charles Barton (‘19), Allysson Becker (‘19), Brittany Graul (‘19), Jarod Griffin (‘19), Connor Hays (‘18), Bailey Horn (‘19), David Liang (’19), Lauren Rutledge (‘19), and Alexandria Szalanczy (‘18), became involved through independent research or the Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics course taught by O’Quin.
Through this research, students and faculty not only learned about viruses but also the bioinformatic tools used to sequence, assemble and compare genomes. In addition, because this research involved many different groups, students learned about the crucial role collaboration plays in the scientific process. This experience demonstrates why gaining real-world experience through research is integral to the Centre Commitment.
“Much of what students study in Biology and BMB [Biochemistry & Molecular Biology] is abstract, especially when we are talking about things at the molecular level,” O’Quin explained. “Research is one way that students can start to ‘see’ some of the things we tell them about in class.”
View the published article here.
by Injee Hong ’21
June 30, 2020