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May 7, 2010

BRIN fellowships awarded to DWU students

MITCHELL, S.D. — Five DWU students and two faculty members will benefit from the South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network this summer.

SD BRIN, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center of Research Resources (NCRR) Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, funds fellowship projects in biomedical research. Some of the program goals, according to its website, include developing collaborative networks within the state to improve biomedical research capabilities, fostering and supporting biomedical research infrastructure and providing avenues for science faculty and students to have research opportunities.

The following is a list of collaborating institutions in the SD BRIN program: Augustana College, Black Hills State University, Dakota Wesleyan University, Mount Marty College, Oglala Lakota College, Sisseton Wahpeton College, University of Sioux Falls and The University of South Dakota (the host institution). More information about SD BRIN can be found at its website: http://orgs.usd.edu/brin.

Five DWU students will take part in BRIN undergraduate fellowships this summer.

Danielle Bellet, a sophomore from Lead, is pursuing a major in biochemistry and a Spanish minor and plans to attend medical school after graduation. Currently she is looking into radiology in family practice. This summer, BRIN will sponsor her fellowship with Dr. Shane Sarver, professor of biology at Black Hills State University, where she will learn about the prion gene in deer and elk; specifically by examining the evolutionary genetics of chronic wasting disease.

Michael Lynch, a junior from Omaha, Neb., is studying biology and psychology. After he graduates, he plans to apply to research institutions and clinical psychology programs. This summer he will work with Dr. Ruanbao Zhou, an associate professor of microbiology at South Dakota State University in Brookings. Zhou is currently researching bioenergy development through use of cyanobacteria, specifically strains of Anabaena. With sunlight, these bacteria are capable of converting carbon dioxide and water into ethanol.

Karissa Miller, a junior from Draper, is pursuing a degree in biology with a minor in entrepreneurial leadership. After graduation she plans to start her physician assistant studies. This summer, she will work with Dr. Kathleen Eyster, physiology professor at USD, studying endometriosis. They will be using a cell culture model with a cell line of endometrial stromal cells to study the effects of cytokines and growth factors on gene expression in these cells. This will be a model of the interactions of endometrial stromal cells and macrophages that are believed to occur during the development of endometriosis. By having an understanding of the interactions between these cells, they hope to better understand the mechanisms endometriosis.

Mark Mingo, a junior from Armour, is working toward his degree in biochemistry with a minor in biology. After graduation he plans to attend medical school. His BRIN fellowship will be at USD working with Dr. Mick Watt, research assistant professor of neurosciences. Their research centers on the neuroendocrine bases of adaptive and maladaptive social behavior in comparative vertebrate models, and how these states may be promoted by social experience. The research will use a rodent model to examine the effect of adolescent bullying on disruptions to brain monoaminergic activity, anxiety and psychostimulant responses in adulthood.

Nick Tolsma, a senior from Rapid City, will graduate with a degree in biochemistry and biology with plans of medical school after DWU. His BRIN summer research involves working with Dr. John Dixson, assistant professor of chemistry at Black Hills State University. The research is based on natural products chemistry and medicinal-organic chemistry. They will evaluate plants that the American Indians used for medicinal purposes and investigate whether they have activity against diseases of today. The plants may have a potential to act on other diseases besides the traditional diseases of the past. The second step is to isolate the compounds that are responsible for the biological activity and determine their structures.

Two DWU faculty members will also have BRIN fellows working alongside them this summer.

Ashton Walter is a sophomore at Mount Marty College, originally from Howard. She is majoring in biology and chemistry. Her BRIN fellowship with Dr. Brian Patrick, assistant professor of biology, will include investigating different species of spiders and beetles caught with a variety of different sampling techniques from three different areas: the Fort Pierre National Grassland, some natural remnant prairie and some CRP land near Mitchell.

Nicholas Wenande, a junior biology-chemistry major and Spanish minor from Mount Marty College, is originally from Mitchell. His BRIN fellowship brings him to DWU to work with Dr. Anthony Cole, associate professor of biochemistry. They will work in the lab using an Agrobacterium expression system to investigate the development of local and systemic responses to Tobacco Mosaic Virus infection in Nicotiana gossei. They will also be looking for new viruses in wheat fields around the area.

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