Megan Jackson '14 at the SURF Symposium.Looking on is Chemistry Professor John Thoburn.
“I enjoy science very much, and participating in the SURF (Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship) program was the best decision I have ever made,” says Randolph-Macon College student Megan Jackson ’14. SURF offers students the unique opportunity to conduct 10 weeks of full-time, original research during the summer months, under the guidance of a faculty mentor.
The ResearchJackson, a biology major and chemistry and religious studies minor, researched Bcr-Abl’s interaction with genes in response to cell migration and phenotypic results on the second chromosome. Her research involved the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly. She worked under the mentorship of Biology Professor Traci Stevens, and on August 8 she presented the results of her research at the SURF Symposium.
“I looked at the second chromosome to see how genetic mutations and deletions of specific genes cause improper cell migration when amplified (and thus causing cell death),” she explains. “Once the embryos were dead, I analyzed them under a microscope to determine the impact of that particular gene, which showed if the gene was an enhancer or suppressor. By doing this research, I helped determine proteins involved in the Abl pathways, which are linked with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.” Jackson's project was supported by an NSF CAREER grant that Stevens received in 2009.
An Enriching ExperienceJackson says the SURF program has been enriching in many ways.
“It helped me determine my future plans—including graduate school and continuing my research on fruit flies,” she says. “And without Professor Stevens’ mentorship, I would not have known if I was doing my experiments and analyses correctly. Her guidance was integral to my success as a researcher.” "The research experience Megan gained through SURF has solidified her decision to pursue graduate studies in molecular biology and will give her advantage as she applies to graduate schools in this field," says Stevens. "Megan is extremely motivated and made a tremendous amount of progress in identifying genes that play a role in regulating cell migration. She plans to continue this work throughout her senior year. In addition, she will present the results from this project at a national research conference in San Diego next spring—a rare opportunity for an undergraduate student." Campus LifeJackson serves as executive director of Service Fellows, and is also a member of Leadership Fellows and the women’s soccer team.
Generous SupportThe SURF program was established in 1995 through a generous gift made by Ben ’64 and Peggy Schapiro. The Schapiros continue to support this program, which promotes scholarly undergraduate research by R-MC students in all disciplines.