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Students Develop Research Skills Through Summer Grant

May 30, 2014

Laurie Morrissey
Communications and Marketing
(603) 656-6047

Biology professor Dan Broek has a number of students help with researching cancer through the NH-INBRE grantChristopher McKay '15 and Brendan Reilly '14 are studying viruses that can kill antibiotic-resistant human pathogens. Karolyn Bristol '15 and Eugenia Fandunyan '16 are observing how sunfish choose their mates. James Cummings '15 is working on an efficient synthesis of a three-dimensional molecule called tetraethynyladamantane.

This summer, 15 Saint Anselm students are searching for answers to questions posed by scientists all over the world, with funding from the New Hampshire INBRE (IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence) program.
The grant aims to increase biomedical research within the state, supporting faculty projects and training future scientists.

Students in majors such as biology, nursing, psychology, and computer science are developing their research skills. They are trained on techniques, terminology, and library resources, working alongside their faculty mentors and asking questions as they go. They also enhance life skills including oral and written communication, analytical inquiry, self-reliance, and self-confidence.

Working on the grant-funded research project is "kind of like a dream come true," says biology major McKay. "A lot of medical schools encourage students to get involved in research, so this is a great opportunity."

His lab partner, a 2014 graduate, has lab experience as he is in his second year on the project. Elizabeth Greguske, assistant professor of biology and faculty mentor, is always available when they have questions.

Saint Anselm student Benjamin Berube conducts research through grantResearch in the Field (or Pond)
While the projects are lab-based, some of the students had a chance to go outside and get their feet wet. Specifically, they went fishing. Once Bristol and Fandunyan got their 55-gallon tanks set up, they went to a local pond to fill them. Back at the lab, they clipped fins so they could do genetic analysis on the tissue samples. Their work is directed by Professor Lori LaPlante, whose research is on how immune function relates to mate choice.

Although most of the projects are based in the Goulet Science Center on campus, one student, biochemistry major Ben Berube '15, is conducting medical research at Dartmouth College. Two nursing majors, Aimee LaLancette '15 and John Sullivan '15, are involved in clinical research at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Research through NH-INBRE
INBRE's goals create a partnership that benefits students first and foremost, says Derk Wierda, Saint Anselm College's principal investigator for INBRE's research training component.

"INBRE wants to build and sustain a research culture, and we already have that; so it enhances our current opportunities," he says. "As a liberal arts, undergraduate college, we like to train students and give them critical thinking skills through research. INBRE helps us do this while also providing additional tools."

Saint Anselm is in its fourth year of a five-year grant and has benefited more than 80 students so far.

Photo: Professor Dan Broek is one of several faculty members who direct student research through  the NH-INBRE program.