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SURFing Through Summer
SURFing Through Summer
Kethelyne Beauvais '15 is a biology and French major.
“I’ve always had an interest in human biology,” says Randolph-Macon College student
Kethelyne Beauvais ’15
. “One of my passions is to learn how the human body operates.”
This summer, Beauvais, a
major, followed her passion with the help of the Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (
) program. Every weekday for 10 weeks she nestled into a lab in the Copley Science Center, where she researched a protein known as GPR56.
“I researched the GPR56 protein found on the acrosome of sperm, which may be an essential protein involved with sperm-egg interactions during mammalian fertilization,” she explains. “An acrosome is a structure at the end of a sperm cell that releases enzymes to digest the cell ‘coat’ of an egg, enabling the sperm to penetrate the egg.” Beauvais, who presented her work at the
, worked under the guidance of Biology Professor James Foster.
“Every day in the lab is unique,” says Beauvais, who hails from Alexandria, Virginia. “I treated guinea pig sperm cells with various buffer solutions and made slides with the cells, or counted the thousands of cells I treated the previous day,” she says. “I noted whether or not a cell had its acrosome intact, and this told me whether the GPR56 protein had been activated. In the midst of these activities I touched base with Professor Foster to talk about observations and ways to improve future trials.”
In addition to her discoveries in the lab, Beauvais learned a few things about herself this summer.
“SURF teaches a level of independence I did not know I could achieve so quickly,” she says. “The research experience I gained will help me perform better in future science courses at Randolph-Macon and beyond. Professor Foster encouraged independence in the lab, but he was always there to guide me and answer my questions. His mentorship helped me build problem-solving skills.”
“Kethelyne was fantastic in the lab,” says Foster. “She has only taken one biology course so far (Integrative Biology II), yet her work was more on the level of a senior project. She picked things up very quickly and showed poise and maturity in conducting research. On paper her project was fairly straightforward, but functional studies of living cells in culture are very challenging. Kethelyne understood this and was able to learn from the literature and carefully work through the technical nuances of her experiments to make it work. Collecting the data involved a lot of grunt work, yet she stuck to it and produced really solid data. Kethelyne has a solid grasp on what she has done and she will present her work at a scientific conference next year.”
When she isn’t donning a lab coat, Beauvais is involved in numerous campus activities. She is a member of the
Campus Events Committee
, and the
Higgins Academic Center
, where she works as a mentor. She is also a member of Circle K International, a leadership program offered by Kiwanis International. In addition, Beauvais volunteers at the Saint James the Less Free Clinic in Ashland, where she assists nurses and doctors and does clerical work. Her post R-MC plans include medical school.
“Ultimately, I’d like to become a general practitioner or family physician,” she says. “At least once a year I’d like to offer my medical services for free in Francophone countries such as Haiti.”
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.
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