Lacey Berry '13: "SURF is the perfect opportunity for me to gain hands-on experience."
Randolph-Macon College student Lacey Berry ’13 is a
biology major with a keen interest in genetics.
“I took Biology Professor Traci Stevens’ genetics course during my sophomore year,
and I have been interested in genetics ever since,” says Berry. “Then I worked in
her lab for a semester, and that experience left me itching to conduct my own research.
The SURF (Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship)
program is the perfect opportunity for me to gain hands-on experience.”
Berry’s SURF project is titled Regions on the third chromosome that genetically
interact with Bcr-abl in Drosophila melanogaster.
“I hope to gain a better understanding of abl, a gene that is crucial in cell migration,”
she explains. “When mutated, abl has been linked to Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
(CML) in humans. I am specifically looking at the third chromosome in the fruit
fly to determine whether there are any gene regions that interact with the mutated
form of abl known as Bcr-abl.”
A typical day in the lab begins with Berry sorting through hundreds of fruit flies
and collecting the females. Later in the day, she sets up “crosses”—two groups of
flies with different genotypes.
“I then collect embryos and I make slides,” she says. “Using these slides, I categorize
the embryos, which allows me to analyze my data.”
For Berry, mentorship is an integral part of the SURF program.
“Professor Stevens has been extremely helpful throughout my SURF experience,” she
says. “She helped me plan my experiment and keeps me on track, all while allowing
me to think critically and apply concepts on my own. She is an amazing mentor and
I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with her.”
“Lacey is a hard worker and has made tremendous progress on her project this summer,”
says Stevens. “In addition to the results that she will present at the SURF symposium
in August, she has set up several experiments that she will finish in the fall as
part of her senior project. In addition to Genetics, Lacey took a First-Year Experience
(FYE) course that combined molecular biology and
mathematics and several other courses in biology
and chemistry. Her strong background in the
sciences prepared her for this ambitious research project and will serve her well
in graduate school and beyond.”
Berry is president of Beta Beta Beta
and the Ways and Means Chair for
Delta Zeta sorority. In addition, she has played
softball for the Yellow Jackets throughout her college career.
Berry’s post-R-MC plans include nursing school.
“Then it’s on to graduate school. Ultimately I want to earn a master’s degree in
nursing,” she says.
SURF was introduced in 1995 as an endowment to
support scholarly undergraduate research by students in all disciplines. Students
conduct 10 weeks of full-time, original research during the summer months, under
the guidance of a faculty mentor. The initial gift for the program was made by Benjamin
Schapiro ’64 and his wife Peggy.