UWRF RSCA Student Profiles and Posts
Saturday, April 17, 2010
First of all, I want to apologize about the delay of the updates.(as some of you might know NCUR has kept me and the rest of the participants/attendees busy) Well for our trip in it went really amazing! The flight was much shorter than I expected(only 2 and a half hours). We arrived in Missoula and it was brisk, but the view was spectacular. There are literally mountains covering all 360 degrees of the skyline. We arrived at a fantastic hotel, and all the hustle and bustle ended with a nice Irish dinner(the food was good) and happy UWRF students. I slept like a baby(no, I didn't wake up every three hours)!
Day two was another fantastic day. For Thursday I had a presentation at 12:45 PM, so I was a bit nervous. I left for campus on the convenient bus routes at about 7:30AM, and as soon as I arrived I realized how big this event actually is! I kind of felt like an ant, but then I remembered that I am just as important as everyone else here. The epiphany came as this event is for undergraduates to lose the “jitters” of presenting, and be comfortable displaying there knowledge in the specific field. I then attended my first oral presentation. There were three different presentations based on “Applying molecular methods to identify human and ruminant fecal contamination sources in Forest Lake, Kirksville, MO”, “Improving Cre-based tools: The Cre Stoplight 2”, and “Epigenetic Control of Cellular Immortalization in Li-Fraumeni Cells.” All of these presentations were well done, and I learned quite a bit. I then went to the plenary speaker, who talked about the importance of undergraduate research and doing experiments in classroom labs that have “looming issues of social consequence”. He stated that if they could focus the research it will envelop more students to become stimulated in the project. After the plenary I grabbed lunch and presented!!! It went amazing I received a lot of good feedback about what SURSCA is doing. I also discussed a lot of good ideas.(don't worry I wrote them down) Some of the students then left back to the hotel to change out of the “monkey suit” and into some business casual. We then went back to campus, and went to the poster session. Yes it was a long day, but then one of my friends decided to climb the mountain!!! I agreed and we reached the top. (trust me I have pictures) It was amazing you could view the entire city. We came back and off we went to dinner, and then most of us hit the hay.
Day three turned out to be another “super” day. Friday was the day for me to present my poster on “Seeking to generate “induced pluripotent stem” (IPS) cells from the cervical cancer cell line, HeLa.” I was able to talk to many interested students and faculty from around the United States! I cited previous scientific literature relating to my topic, and I felt like I conveyed my message to every visitor. I also networked with people from many different schools, such as Kapiolani Community College out of Hawaii!!! They were extremely interested in our work, and I got their e-mail address. I also looked at many of the graduate schools there during the graduate school fair. I feel like I have a leg up now, because of some of the contacts I've made. I then went to the nearest department store, so I could get a pair of comfortable shoes. I only brought dress shoes, and man my feet were barking up a storm.
Then I grabbed a quick bite to eat, and off the Kyi-Yo Pow Wow. This was an awesome experience, where I learned what a real “pow wow” is. It is a meeting of tribes to celebrate, and man do they know how to celebrate! They danced almost the full 4 hours.(I was tired watching them) It was a fantastic cultural experience. I learned about some traditional dances and even saw some UWRF students on the dance floor showing off their moves (of course we were invited to, but I climbed a mountain yesterday I didn’t have the ability to dance myself)! After the Pow Wow I returned to my room and I am about fall asleep now. So I must say thanks for reading and good night.
Timothy A. Morris Jr.
Co-President Biotechnology Club
Hello! Paul Casper here! I am from Baldwin Wisconsin and am currently a senior at UWRF, majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry.
Research and Scholarly activities are not only fun to be involved in, but are also a great opportunity to gain useful experience as an undergraduate. The research that I have conducted as an undergraduate has helped me to prepare myself for future studies, as I look toward obtaining a Ph.D. in biology. Additionally, my involvement with the McNair Scholars Program has also assisted me in becoming a more competitive candidate for graduate studies and my future career. I attended the 18th Annual National McNair Conference in Delevan Wisconsin this past year where I was introduced to many different types of research being conducted throughout the U.S. I also presented my poster at Gala on Nov. 30, 2009, which was also a very rewarding experience. I am also attending the upcoming NCUR conference in Missoula Montana in May 2010. My involvement with undergraduate research has been highly beneficial, not only academically, but personally as well. I have been provided the opportunity to meet with many well-regarded professionals within my field and make many great friends throughout. RSCA is very exciting and rewarding to be a part of and I would recommend anyone get involved if given an opportunity.
Paul Casper, SURSCA Grants Officer 2009-2010
My name is Victor Piazza. I am a previous Biotechnology major, with Chemistry and Biology minors. I recently completed my undergraduate career at UW-River Falls, marking my place as the first child in my family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. I now look toward the future and hope to obtain my Ph.D in the field of biomedical sciences. My hope is that I may stand as an example for others like myself to follow and make the most out of their own educational experiences. I have taken the opportunity to participate in three distinct academic research projects and two industrial research projects throughout my undergraduate career. All have been significant to me, but I will only focus here on my academic research experience. The first I’ll describe was conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Scott Ballantyne in the Biology Department. Using cDNA from the frog, Xenopus laevis, we sought to purify and characterize a type of PolyA-binding protein found exclusively in frog embryos within the first 30 hours of life. This project involved of cDNA transduction into a competent strain of E. coli and subsequent promotion of recombinant protein production. The recombinant protein, embryonic PolyA-binding protein (ePAB), was purified via metal ion affinity chromatography. This project culminated in local, statewide, and national conferences including the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in 2008. Held in Salisbury, MD. I found it to be particularly valuable in allowing me to present myself professionally to audiences.
My second academic research project focused on the generation of cardiac artificial tissues (ATs) using natural scaffolds, under the mentorship of Dr. Tim Lyden in the Tissue and Cellular Innovation Center (TCIC) at UW-River Falls. I used embryonic chicken hearts along with natural and proprietary matrices to grow rat cardiac muscle tissues. The tissues, composed of commercially-available cells (ATTC #CRL1446) seeded onto the aforementioned matrices, appeared to expand throughout the matrix when cultured for set time intervals. One of the most exciting aspects of this work is the contrast between cellular adhesion behaviors on different matrices. This aspect has allowed Dr. Lyden and myself to gain much insight into characteristic behaviors of this cell line. An additional thrill was getting to conduct scanning electron microscopy on my samples and see the proliferative growth patterns.
This project has allowed me to learn more than I thought possible about tissue engineering techniques and practices in working with 3D cultures. It is very exciting for me to read literature from top researchers analyzing different aspects of cardiac tissue generation and envision what is happening from minute aspects of molecular and cellular signaling behavior within the cells up to tissue formation and the overall messages that are being given. More recently, I have began a new project under Dr. Lyden’s mentorship, in which primary chick heart tissues are being cultured on a proprietary matrix of his design for set time intervals and at distinct stages of chick development. We are currently conducting scanning electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry to determine the phenotypic and molecular characteristics of these cardiac ATs. It is our hope to obtain robust ATs with characteristic rhythmic beating patterns out to one-month culture periods. And, in case I forgot to mention, this is my third “undergraduate” academic research project.
As stated, it is my goal to earn a Ph.D in the field of biomedical sciences. I urge anyone reading this to seek out a professor and talk about your interest in conducting research. Even if you don’t think you want to go to grad school, or you don’t know if research would be your thing. TRY IT. It can’t hurt, and you may be surprised at how engaging/addicting it can be for you intellectually. I didn’t know what my research interests would be right away, and after a few projects I realized my passion lies in applied biomedical sciences. Additionally, if you have an idea for a research project but don’t think a professor will go along with it because that’s not where their interests lie, stop thinking like that. It does not hurt to ask. The first project I conducted with Dr. Lyden was one primarily of my own invention. It turned out to work very well because it interfaced my project ideas with his overall research goals. So take a chance. Those are just some things to keep in mind. I wish everyone the best of luck in their future endeavors and hope that you make the most out of your time in college. Thanks for reading!
Victor G. Piazza, Senior McNair Scholar
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Hello, My first post!
My name is Tim M. and I am a Junior from Janesville Wisconsin.
RSCA means many different things to me. It means that I have the opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate, which helps me understand what my field will be like in industry or obtaining my Ph.D. It also makes me more competitive as an undergraduate with a degree in Biotechnology. RSCA also helps me showcase the university and help people understand the world-class institution that we have here in River Falls. With the experience of research, I have also been given the opportunity to showcase my research on campus. I presented my poster at the annual “Gala Evening of RSCA” night on November 30th, 2009. At the Gala I described my research to different campus professionals, community members of River Falls, and fellow students. This good fortune has prepared me for NCUR 2010 in Missoula Montana! I can't wait.
Timothy A. Morris Jr.
Co-President Biotechnology Club