Wyoming INBRE Research Network Retreat 2015, University of Wyoming / National Park Service Research Station, Grand Teton National Park, WY.

Wyoming INBRE Research Network Retreat 2015, University of Wyoming/ National Park Service Research Station, Grand Teton National Park, WY

University of Wyoming at Casper (UWC) and Casper College (CC), Casper WY

Project Lead: Dagmara Motriuk-Smith (UWC)
Faculty Mentors: Florence Teulé-Finley (UWC), Riley Bernard (UWC), Dino Madsen (CC), John Chase (CC), Kelly Keenan (CC), and Eric Mechalke (CC)

Casper College (CC) and the University of Wyoming at Casper (UWC) work together to award associates degrees in a variety of life science related disciplines and baccalaureate degrees in Biology, Zoology, Secondary Science Education in Biology, and Natural Science and Mathematics. Selected Casper College and University of Wyoming students have worked on numerous projects incorporating techniques and concepts commonly used in biomedical investigations including microbial identification, DNA fingerprinting, DNA sequencing, PCR, electrophoresis, protein expression, microscopy, diagnostic parasitology, taxonomy, molecular systematics, ecotoxicology, population genetics and disease ecology/epidemiology. Current research foci include: taxonomy, systematics, and phylogenetics of the parasitic protozoan Phylum Apicomplexa with emphases on the genus Eimeria; dragline silk proteins from orb-weaving spider, Araneus gemmoides, where partial sequences of MaSp1 and MaSp2 genes are being used to identify conserved carboxy terminus and determine variation of repetitive amino acid motifs; small mammal community ecology, population genetics, and response to fire and climate change; bat ecology and disease ecology; and the affects of naturally occurring selenium rich environments on plant, fungi, insect, and small mammal community structure and trophic movement of selenium in Wyoming. Since the start of the INBRE program INBRE supported research at Casper College and UWC has resulted in 8 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 60+ presentations at INBRE, regional, national, and international scientific meetings, and multiple presentations at Wyoming Undergraduate Research Day.

Central Wyoming College, Riverton WY
Project Lead: Bill Finney
Faculty Mentors: Jackie Klancher, Tarissa Spoonhunter, Tara Womack, Aaron Bender, and Kirsten Kapp (CWC-Jackson)

Researchers at Central Wyoming College are pursuing two main lines of inquiry. The first area of research is an investigation into the geochemistry and microbiota of a 50°C hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming. This study involves the use of several basic chemical and molecular biology techniques that students can apply to other areas of biomedical research. The second area of study seeks to understand the epidemiology of West Nile virus (WNV) in the local community.  Toward that end, researchers are conducting serosurveys of the local population to determine its degree of exposure to WNV.  They are also studying the rate of infection of the virus in its primary vector in Wyoming, the Culex tarsalis mosquito.  Equipment purchased with INBRE funds has allowed faculty to introduce molecular biology techniques, including ELISA, PCR, and PAGE, into biology and microbiology teaching labs and to establish a Biosafety Level 2 research laboratory at the college. Undergraduate researchers at CWC have made multiple presentations at local, regional and national scientific meetings and at the University of Wyoming's annual Undergraduate Research Day, as well.
Eastern Wyoming College, Torrington WY
Project Lead: Chris Wenzel

Faculty Mentor: Lori Britton

The Eastern Wyoming College INBRE Network proposal is based on a research project that will focus on extracting DNA from several sagebrush species that grow in eastern Wyoming. To date DNA has been extracted from Artemisia tridentata which is also known as Wyoming big sage.  This is one of many species that are found over 50% of Wyoming's landmass.  The sagebrush ecosystems are quite significant as they provide habitat for numerous species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.  In addition, many stands of sagebrush in Wyoming are monotypic and estimated to be at least 50 years old.  Little is currently known about the genome of the various Artemisia spp. in these stands.  Our  research will provide quality DNA samples in which specific genes can be sequenced to learn more about the Artemisia genome.  Currently research is being conducted to refine the process to extract  DNA  from these plants.  Artemisia is known to contain a number of volatile organic compounds or terpenoids that may be useful for insect fumigation or other medicinal purposes.  However, it is these volatile organic compounds that have made it quite difficult to extract nucleic acids from the plants.  Three different methodologies will be used to extract DNA and compare purity of samples.  Once quality samples are obtained, the gene for glyceraldehyde phosphate dehyrogenase, GAPDH, will be sequenced and compared. The gene for GAPDH is a common housekeeping gene which should have a highly conserved nucleotide sequence.  This gene may also be quite important because the GAPDH enzyme may play a role in drought tolerance in Artemisia. Undergraduate students participating in the research receive credit in a course titled Introduction to Scientific Research. These students have the opportunity to present their research and travel to a scientific conference.

Laramie County Community College, Cheyenne WY
Project Lead: Ami Wangeline
Faculty Mentors: Zac Roehrs, Courtney Springer, and Marie Yearling

Research at Laramie County Community College is centered on many aspects utilizing our core study organisms, seleniferous filamentous fungi (molds that love selenium). The first branch of the program focuses on fungal metabolism and physiology, including assessment of how selenium is processed, tolerated and detoxified in these fungi despite the fact that selenium is typically anti-fungal. This involves students using microplate spectroscopy analysis as well as collaborating with area research universities for both equipment and expertise. Some of the projects from this side are examining fungal ultrastructure and crystal formation (SEM-EDS), fungal Se accumulation (ICP-AES) and fungal metabolites as antagonists to cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. The second branch of our program is exploring selenium movement in a community, or even an ecosystem including fungal isolation and identification, experiments on fungal and Se hyperaccumulator or non-accumulator plant interactions, and Se cycling through trophic levels in a naturally rich seleniferous habitat. We anticipate this branch expanding to include examination of other metalliferous fungi as contributors to phytoremediation of contaminated areas. Students from our group have traveled to and presented at several national and regional conferences and anticipate publication of their work in the future.

Northwest College, Powell WY
Project Lead: Eric Atkinson
Faculty Mentors: Allan Childs, Elise Kimball, Uko Udodong, Michael Cuddy, and Jay Dickerson

At Northwest College INBRE supports student biomedical research in microbiology and molecular biology.  The original project was to search for bacterial species with antibacterial activity in tundra soil.  Current work still includes soil searches but has broadened to include searching for bacterial species with antibacterial activity in rotting wood.  Bacteria that grow aerobically are isolated and tested for ability to inhibit growth ofEscherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and/or Staphylococcus aureus.  Chromosomal DNA is extracted from the bacteria and the 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplified by pcr.  The pcr product is sequenced commercially and a BLAST search done to provide a tentative identification of the bacterial isolates. It is estimated by others that only 1% of prokaryotes from environmental samples are easily cultured in the lab.  To investigate the other 99% a molecular approach may be more productive.  To help us in this endeavor we are establishing a collaboration with a member of the molecular biology faculty at the University of Wyoming.  Future plans will include metabolic studies of the various bacterial species with antibacterial activity.

Sheridan and Gillette Colleges, Sheridan and Gillette WY
Project Lead: Ami Erickson (Sheridan)
Faculty Mentors: Rob Milne (Sheridan) and Braden Goodwin (Gillette)

At Sheridan and Gillette Colleges INBRE support has allowed increased coverage of biomedical techniques in core courses in biology and chemistry. The biology department has developed a research course in biology and chemistry where students focus on biomedical techniques and are exposed to the research process and selected students pursue independent studies with mentor faculty. Students have reported their findings at the University of Wyoming Undergraduate Research Days on an annual basis. Students have also presented at the Western IDeA States Symposium on Evolutionary Medicine in Albuquerque spring 2007 and at the American Institute of Biological Sciences Annual Meeting in spring 2008. Faculty and institutional interest has stimulated planning for a multidisciplinary Certificate in Biotechnology and a program proposal will be submitted to the Curriculum and Standards Committee fall 2008, with a projected start-up date of fall 2009.

Western Wyoming Community College, Rock Springs WY
Project Mentor: Bud Chew
Faculty Mentors: David Tanner and Joshua Holmes

Research at Western Wyoming Community College focuses on cardiovascular and neurological changes that result from iron deficiency. Students and mentor faculty have presented findings at the Experimental Biology conference, have published a paper in cooperation with INBRE PI Ren, and have a manuscript in preparation with Dr. Bruce Culver's lab at the University of Wyoming. A Science Journal Club has been established that is attended by research group members, a few invited students, and other science faculty. Each week, a faculty member chooses a paper, and two students are tasked to present a PowerPoint as a discussion outline. The Journal Club has been highly successful and noticeable improvement  has been observed in student's ability to read, understand, and present the key points of scientific papers. The program at Western Wyoming College will continue to build on achievements to date.