Seniors Honored for Excellence in Scientific Research

During the six weeks of the prestigious STARS (Students and Teachers as Research Scientists) summer program, students conducted research, wrote a technical report and presented their findings in a seminar format. The LMI Inc. Award for Excellence in Research is presented to various students who distinguish themselves during the STARS program. The winning research papers chosen are based on the difficulty and complexity level of the research, procedure of the research, findings, quality of writing and the overall quality of the research process.

A total of 31 awards were given to students from 18 area schools, including MICDS seniors Lynn Dankner, Davis Johnston, Stephen Mattingly and Chloe Stallion. In their own words, these aspiring scientific researchers shared the key objectives of their summer work.

Lynn Dankner ’15
Topic: “The Effect of 8 Weeks of Pulmonary Rehabilitation on 24-Hour ECG Derived Measures of Circadian Rhythm, Sleeping, and Napping, in Patients with Severe COPD” Mentor: Dr. Phyllis Stein, Washington University in St. Louis

I studied the effect of a pulmonary rehabilitation program on patients with severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease using 24-hour heart rate recordings. From these recordings I obtained measurements of the circadian rhythms of heart rate and sleep patterns using five different graphical methods. At the end of the study, I concluded that pulmonary rehabilitation versus non-exercising control condition appeared to affect the waking times and nap duration, but did not have any effect on bed times or circadian rhythm properties.


Davis Johnston ’15
Topic: “Role of hrcV Gene in Xanthomonas axonopodis pv manihotis (Xam)”
Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Bart, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

My research project was to study a specific bacteria that infects only Cassava, which is a staple crop of millions of people living in the tropics. I knocked out a gene in the bacteria that allows the transportation of disease associated proteins from the bacteria to the plant cells and then saw lessened bacterial growth on the plants.


Stephen Mattingly ’15
Topic: “Examining the Activity of Pgp and BCRP via Fluorescence Microscopy.”
Mentor: Dr. Vijay Sharma, Washington University in St. Louis.

I examined the activity of P-glycoprotein (Pgp) and Breast Cancer Resistance Protein (BCRP), plasma membrane transporters which normally carry out protective functions in several important human tissues, but in doing so also render many cancerous cells in those regions resistant to chemotherapeutic treatments. In order to examine this process, I grew cells that had been transfected with the Pgp and BCRP transporters and used a fluorescent compound to tag those cells and measure under a microscope how various inhibitors could be used to prevent cancerous cells from mutating and developing chemotherapy resistance.


Chloe Stallion ’15
Topic: “The Potential Interactions between Kermit and Snx27 with Echinoid in Drosophila”
Mentor: Dr. Susan Spencer and Qian Nie, Saint Louis University

The objective of my research project was to further the study of cancer. Echinoid is known to interact with Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors in human cells that trigger cell division. Echinoid is a protein and the more Echinoid on the cell membrane the more the cell will divide. If there is too much Echinoid present on the membrane then the cells will continue to divide too rapidly, and cause the spread of cancer. dGIPC and Snx27 could interact with echinoid and pull it off the membrane which would stop the spread of cancer. My experiments tested whether dGIPC and Snx27 could potentially pull Echinoid off the membrane.