Selena Washington '14
Sierra Mosticone-Wangensteen '13
Lacey Berry '13
Three Randolph-Macon College students attended the 54th Annual Drosophila Research
Conference April 3-7, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Genetics Society
of America, the conference offers student-scientists who work with fruit flies the
opportunity to network with each other.
Selena Washington ’14, Sierra Mosticone-Wangensteen ’13,
and Lacey Berry ’13 attended the conference—commonly referred to
as the Fly Meeting—and presented posters of their SURF
(Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship) projects and their senior capstone
work. They were accompanied by R-MC Biology Professor Traci Stevens, who serves
as their advisor and mentor.
“Selena, Sierra and Lacey used fruit flies to investigate the genes that regulate
the ways cells migrate during development,” explains Stevens. “Each has her own
project, but all three are working toward the goal of identifying new genes that
regulate these complex processes. These studies will help them both to better understand
how cells migrate normally during development and how inappropriate cell migration
can occur in disease states, such as cancer, which is marked by the ability of cells
to move out of their normal location in the body.”
Their studies were funded by a
National Science Foundation CAREER grant awarded to Stevens that supports
the integration of education and research.
Selena Washington ’14
A biology major, Washington’s SURF project is
titled A screen to identify genes that interact with Abl tyrosine kinase in Drosophila.
Washington’s research helps to show how a mutant strain of Abl leads to
the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in humans.
“Conducting research enriches my educational experience by allowing me to delve
deeper into an area of study,” she says. “Not many undergraduates get this kind
of hands-on experience.”
Mosticone-Wangensteen, whose project is titled A genetic screen identifies Myo-V
as a component of Abl signaling pathways, is majoring in
biology and psychology. She researched
the different components of the cell signaling pathway of Bcr-Abl mutation,
which causes Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in humans.
In January 2013, Mosticone-Wangensteen received the Victoria Finnerty Travel Award,
which enabled her to travel to the Fly Meeting. Mosticone-Wangensteen, who serves
as captain of R-MC’s
equestrian team, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in the biosciences.
Lacey Berry ’13
Berry’s SURF project is titled A deficiency screen to identify regions of the third
chromosome that genetically interact with activated Abl. The
biology major took Stevens’ Genetics course during her 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 program is the perfect opportunity for students to gain hands-on
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.