WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., July 20, 2021 — TOPPER-SURE is the official name of the summer undergraduate research program at West Liberty University and the work results in a symposium that showcases posters and data, giving valuable feedback for students.
The 2021 research was displayed on Monday, July 19 in the Academic, Sports and Recreation (ASRC) facility for visitors and the campus community to explore.
Fourteen students presented the research and answered questions posed by the audience wanting to know more about the wide variety of biology projects that showcased everything from snakes to antibiotics.
“Our annual summer research program is a popular nine-week program that offers undergraduates needed time to research, share and learn how to problem-solve in science and how to sharpen the research skills that we will help them in their future, both in graduate school and professional fields,” said Dr. Deanna Schmitt, assistant professor of biology in WLU’s College of Sciences who is in charge of the symposium this year.
Schmitt focused on research that dealt with the mechanisms of novel antibiotics.
Besides Schmitt, six other faculty members acted as advisors guiding the student-researchers. These include: Dr. Diana Barber (bat biodiversity and behavior), Jeremiah Dann (earthworms and soil quality), Dr. Nicole Garrison (conservation genetics and genomics), Kinsey Guthrie, Dr. Zachary Loughman (crayfish diversity) and Dr. Holly Racine (thyroid related mechanisms in craniosynostosis).
Two of the faculty were new to participation in the summer program, Guthrie (Instructor of Biology) and Garrison (Assistant Professor of Biology).
“I found that the summer research program gave me increased confidence in my work at the undergraduate level and I’m grateful for the chance to take part in TOPPER-SURE,” said Emma Beatty of Pine Grove, W.Va.
The list of the student projects and titles include:
- Invasive Amynthas spp. Population Density Survey and SADIE Analysis, Authors: Jason Ake, Loyd Butcher, and Jeremiah Dann
- The role of dipA (FTL_1306) and pilD (FTL_0959) in Francisella tularensis susceptibility to resazomycins, Authors: Emma J. Beatty, Siena McGovern, Kendall Souder, Michael Whaby, Emily Young, Jacob Pancake, Daron Weekly, Justin Rice, Donald A. Primerano, James Denvir, Joseph Horzempa, and Deanna Schmitt
- Deiodinase I and III Expression Following Induced Thyrotoxicosis, Authors: Kirsten M. Bogunovich, Peri E. Gray, Andrea L. Dwiggins, and Holly L. Racine
- Invasive Amynthas spp. Survey of Length and Growth Examinations, Authors: Loyd Butcher, Jason Ake, and Jeremiah Dann
- Effect of Efflux Pumps and Oxidative Stress on Neisseria gonorrhoeae Susceptibility to Resazurin, Authors: Jordan Gibson, Justin Rice, Emily Young, and Deanna Schmitt
- Monitoring the Effects of Thyrotoxicosis on Embryonic Avian Heart Rate, Authors: Peri E. Gray, Kirsten M. Bogunovich, Andrea L. Dwiggins, and Holly L. Racine
- Effects of Thyroxine Exposure on Thyroid Hormone Regulation in Embryonic Avian Serum, Authors: Tyler P. Hill, Peri E. Gray, Andrea L. Dwiggins, and Holly L. Racine
- Determining the role of lipoprotein processing and sorting in Francisella tularensis susceptibility to resazomycins, Authors: Siena McGovern, Emily Young, Emma Beatty, and Deanna Schmitt
- Analysis of the effects of UVB radiation on bone density and behavior of Hatchling false water cobras, Hydrodynastes gigas, Author: Alison Gemberling
- Natural History of Stream Dwelling Water Snakes in West Virginia, Author: Justin Sanclemente
- Genomic analysis of Chelodina mccordi from the Audubon Zoo, New Orleans using Oxford Nanopore Sequencing, Authors: Kaitlyn Taylor and Dr. Nicole GarrisonEvaluating Bat Diversity and Activity in Developed and Underdeveloped Locations of West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle, Authors: Julia Purks and Alexis Martin
“The TOPPER-SURE acronym stands for Training Opportunity for Pre-Professionals, Educators, and Researchers Summer Undergraduate Research Experience and though it’s a mouthful, the summer program does just that. It prepares our undergraduate students for a successful future,” Schmitt said.
The students benefitted from an in-person presentation by Dr. Tracey Sheetz, dean of admissions at California University of Pennsylvania, about career planning and two virtual presentations from graduate admissions staff at West Virginia University and Marshall University about applying for graduate school and graduate student assistantships.
“I congratulate them on their effort and work this summer. The TOPPER-SURE program continues to prepare our students well for their future in the professional field of biology,” added Dean of the College of Sciences Dr. Karen Kettler.
Funded by a grant from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research, under the direction of Dr. Juliana Serafin, the summer research program also rewards students with stipends of $3,000 each.
West Liberty University is West Virginia’s oldest public university and it offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, plus a growing number of graduate programs, both online and on campus. For more information, please call 1.866.937.8542 (WESTLIB), visit westliberty.edu or follow WLU on social media. To view more about WLU, please visit westliberty.edu/youtube.