Three East Georgia State College students enrolled in the Bachelor of Sciences in Biology program, as well as Dr. David Chevalier, Interim Biology Chair, attended the Annual Meeting of the Georgia Academy of Sciences hold on March 24 and 25, 2017 on the campus of Young Harris College in Young Harris Ga. Joleishia Cooper and Alicia Winfrey gave a presentation, while Lindsey Howell presented a poster.
Cooper’s presentation was titled “Ecosystem Assessment of an Aquatic Resource For K12 Education and Recreation.” In conjunction with students enrolled in BIOL 3500 (Ecology), Cooper worked under the supervision of Dr. Breana Simons, Associate Professor at EGSC, and measured physical, chemical and biological characteristics of a suburban lentic system to assess water quality and evaluate the habitat for use in local K-12 educational programs. Natural and anthropogenic factors, such as plant diversity and surface runoff, can influence inputs to ponds and lakes in suburban areas, affecting their suitability for research or recreation. Information from this study will allow local administrators to manage the property more effectively to meet educational and recreational goals as well as develop plans for future acquisitions.
Winfrey’s presentation was titled “Identification of New MicroRNAs in Dunaliella Salina.” This algal species is phototrophic and resistant to salt due to the production and accumulation of high concentration of beta-carotene. This alga is used to produce beta-carotene for cosmetics and dietary supplements. MicroRNAs are small, single-strand noncoding RNAs. Their main function is to regulate the expression of genes. They are involved in several biological processes including cell cycle control, apoptosis, stem cell differentiation, and skeletal muscle development. This research is the continuation of the collaboration between Dr. Chevalier and Dr. Glen Borcheret from the University of South Alabama.
Howell presented a research poster entitled “Identification of New MicroRNAs in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.” This organism is an alga that is used a model organism. The goal of her research was to perform a comprehensive informatics analysis of the small RNA sequence from this alga. She performed under the supervision of Drs. Chevalier and Borcheret during the Fall 2015 and summer 2016.
During the student awards and Academy Business Meeting luncheon on March 25, Winfrey was presented with a $100 travel award from the Georgia Academy of Sciences. She received one of only ten travel awards awarded by the Georgia Academy of Sciences. She is also the first student from EGSC to receive this travel award.
“It was a great experience” said Winfrey. “I was able to listen and learn about research performed by students at other universities.”
“I am very proud of Alicia, Joleishia, and Lindsey. Their presentations were very well received during the meeting,” said Dr. Chevalier. “Attending scientific meetings, presenting research, and networking with other scientists and students are part of skills that are required to become an excellent scientist.”