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Scholars

Scholars 2019-20

Stephen Dahlstrom ('21)

Headshot of Stephen Dahlstrom.

Hometown: Southborough, Massachusetts
Major: Criminal Justice, with an immersion in Psychology
Mentors: Dr. Rebecca Houston and Dr. Irshad Altheimer

Stephen was selected as an RIT-RISE scholar in the Spring of 2019. His research interests lay at the intersection of criminal justice and mental health. To forge this unique research path, Stephen currently has two co-mentors. Beginning his work with Dr. Rebecca Houston in the RIT Dept. of Psychology in the summer of 2019, Stephen contributed to ongoing lab studies of relationships among drug use, impulsivity, and aggression. In Dr. Houston’s lab, Stephen has continuously developed basic skills in experimental psychology laboratory techniques, including administration of neuropsychological assessments and the collection of event-related brain potential data. In the fall of 2019, Stephen began his work with Dr. Irshad Altheimer in the Center for Public Safety Initiatives (CPSI), learning basic community survey-research techniques.

In November, Stephen presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) on the results of an innovative survey study that combined research techniques from both criminal justice and psychology disciplines to investigate the associations among impulsivity, self-control, and delinquency.

Stephen’s future public-health research interests include examining the root causes of crime in different areas and developing policies to reduce crime rates by understanding the dynamics of different networks. He is also interested in crime and intelligence analysis.

Fun Fact: Stephen loves strategy games, including board games (such as Chess, Backgammon, and Risk) and military strategy games.

Presentations:
Dahlstrom, S., Houston, R., Altheimer, I., (2019, November 16). Differential Associations between Impulsivity and Self-Control and their Relationship with Delinquency: A Psychometric Study. Poster Presentation. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, Anaheim, CA.

 

Holly Elder ('22)

Headshot of Holly Elder.

Hometown: Irwin, Pennsylvania (outside of Pittsburgh)
Major: Biomedical Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Robert Osgood

Holly began her research in the summer of 2019 with Dr. Robert Osgood, in the Biomedical Science Program. Her current research involves the observation of biofilm production of Streptococcus mutans when exposed to various environmental factors, specifically when it is exposed to diabetic-friendly artificial sweeteners. In Dr. Osgood’s lab, Holly is learning basic research-laboratory techniques including spectroscopy, microscopy, and gram staining.

These techniques, and others that Holly will learn as she advances in her studies, will prepare her to pursue her future interest in studying neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, using neuroimaging techniques such as EEGs and fMRI. In November of last year, Holly attended ABRCMS with her fellow RIT-RISE scholars.

Fun Fact: Holly can play several musical instruments and is most skilled at playing viola and cello.

 

Scholars 2018-19

Rowan Christie ('21)

Headshot of Rowan Christie.

Hometown: Eugene, OR
Major: Bioinformatics/Computational Biology
Mentor: Dr. Kaitlin Stack Whitney

Rowan’s research is focused on environmental drivers of insect populations and communities across large temporal and spatial gradients. Currently, Rowan is part of an NSF-funded collaboration between RIT (under Dr. Kaitlin Stack Whitney) and Kent State University (under Dr. Christine Bahlai) examining population stability trends in deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) populations, which are the main vector of the Lyme disease pathogen. Understanding how tick populations are changing over time, using long term datasets collected using different sampling methods, can help contextualize risks to human health and inform public health policy.

Rowan also continues the research they began in the summer of 2018 with Dr. Stack Whitney, focusing on patterns of freshwater aquatic macroinvertebrates across North America. These macroinvertebrates are considered critical bioindicators of water quality and ecosystem health. Rowan has examined associations of the density of 28 taxa and 5 functional groups with water temperature, elevation, canopy cover, land use, and soil imperviousness -- the results thus far indicate a possible correlation between functional group diversity and land cover.

In the future, Rowan wants to do bioinformatics work involving ecological data and data analysis using various software tools such as R, Python, and ArcGIS. They would also like to become more involved in fieldwork and data collection.

Presentations:
All presentation materials are available on Rowan’s FigShare: https://figshare.com/authors/Sofie_Christie/6912605

Christie, R., Stack Whitney, K., & Bahlai, C. (2019, November 15). Comparing Stability Trends in Long Term Deer Tick Population Datasets. Poster Presentation. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, Anaheim, CA.

Christie, R., Stack Whitney, K., & Bahlai, C. (2019, November 7). Comparing Stability Trends in Long Term Deer Tick Population Datasets. Poster Presentation. Rochester Academy of Science Conference, Rochester, NY.

Stack Whitney, K., & Christie, R. (2019, August 10). Working Together: Establishing Productive Training Environments with Hearing Mentors and D/HH Trainees in Science. Poster Presentation. DEAF ROC, Rochester, NY.

Christie, R.; Stack Whitney, K. (2019, August 9). Ixodes scapularis (Lyme disease vector) Population Interannual Stability Trends in Long Term Datasets. Poster Presentation. DEAF ROC 2019, Rochester, NY.

Christie, R.; Stack Whitney, K. (2019, August 1) Ixodes scapularis (Lyme disease vector) Population Interannual Stability Trends in Long Term Datasets. Poster Presentation. RIT Undergraduate Research Symposium 2019, Rochester, NY.

Christie, R.; Stack Whitney, K. (2019, April 12). Modeling US freshwater macroinvertebrate communities and ecological health. Poster Presentation. NTID Research Fair 2019, Rochester, NY.

Christie, R.; Stack Whitney, K. (2019, March 21). Modeling macroinvertebrate communities and ecological health. PowerPoint Presentation. RIT Research Spotlights: Health and Life Sciences, Rochester, NY.

Christie, R.; Stack Whitney, K. (2018, November 14). Modeling US freshwater macroinvertebrate communities and ecological health. Poster Presentation. Entomology Society of America, Vancouver, BC.

Christie, R.; Stack Whitney, K. (2018, November 10). Modeling macroinvertebrate communities and ecological health. PowerPoint Presentation. 45th Annual Rochester Academy of Sciences Fall Scientific Paper Session, Rochester, NY.

Christie, R.; Stack Whitney, K. (2018, August 3). Modeling US freshwater macroinvertebrate communities and ecological health. Poster Presentation. RIT Undergraduate Research Symposium 2018, Rochester, NY.

Scholars 2017-18

Xinbei Liu ('20)

Headshot of Xinbei Liu.

Hometown: New York City, NY
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Lea Michel

In the summer of 2019, Xinbei received a competitive University of Rochester Summer Scholars Program award to intern in Dr. Michelle Dziejman’s microbiology lab at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Dziejman’s lab researches cholera, a severe gastrointestinal illness which is caused by infection with the Gram-negative bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Xinbei’s project focused on strains of V. cholerae that cause sporadic diseases and utilize a unique "needle-like" mechanism to inject bacterial proteins into host cells during infections. During this time, Xinbei learned many new lab techniques such as Gateway cloning technology to recombine genetic sequences of interest into a plasmid.

Xinbei has worked in Dr. Lea Michel’s lab since 2017, and she will continue this research until she graduates in 2020. This research focuses on understanding the structure-function relationship of peptidoglycan-associated lipoprotein (Pal) and its role in the clinical condition of sepsis, which is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Throughout her experience in this lab, Xinbei has learned how to conduct Pal release experiments with Pal mutants and enjoyed this experience immensely due to the changes easily seen from the Pal-peptidoglycan interaction.

Xinbei is currently applying to PhD programs, aiming to research diseases and/or viruses in the future. This is Xinbei’s advice to future RIT-RISE scholars: “Be open-minded to any opportunity given to you because you never know if, someday, you might need it. For instance, if you are given an opportunity to work in a lab outside of RIT, take it. That way, you have more experience for your future.”

Presentations:
Liu, X., Lewis, S. Ward, Z. and Michel, L.V. Characterizing the effects of Pal-Peptidoglycan interactions. Poster Presentation. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), San Diego, CA (Abstract submitted).

Liu, X., Lewis, S.D., Ward, Z., LaClair, C., and Michel, L.V. (2019). Probing the effect of the Pal-Peptidoglycan interaction on Pal release from Escherichia coli.(abstract). FASEB journal, 33(1_supplement), Abstract 631.27.

Liu, X., Bell, H., and Dziejman, M. Functional comparison of Vibrio cholerae and Vibrio parahaemolyticus VopZ(Z) effector proteins. Poster Presentation. University of Rochester Medical Center Summer Research Symposium, Rochester, NY, August 2, 2019.

Liu, X., Lewis, S., LaClair, C., Ward, Z., and Michel, L.V. Probing the Effect of the Pal-Peptidoglycan Interaction on Pal Release from Escherichia coli. Poster Presentation. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), Orlando, FL, April 8, 2019.

Liu, X., Lewis, S., Ward, Z., LaClair, C., and Michel, L.V. Probing the Effect of the Pal-Peptidoglycan Interaction on Pal Release from Escherichia coli. Poster Presentation. RIT-RISE Program Spring Symposium, Rochester, NY, April 1, 2019.

Liu, X., Lewis, S., Stanton, S., LaClair, C., Phadke, S., and Michel, L.V. Using Site-Directed Mutagenesis to Probe the Pal-Peptidoglycan Interaction. Poster Presentation. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), Indianapolis, IN, November 16, 2018.

Liu, X., Stanton, S., LaClair, C., Phadke, S., and Michel, L.V. Modulating the binding affinity of Pal to Peptidoglycan. Poster Presentation. American Chemical Society (ACS) Regional Meeting, Boston, MA, August 19, 2018.