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Student Research Spotlights in STEM

Crystal with a yellow background
Photo courtesy of Crystal Chukwurah

Crystal Chukwurah, ‘22: “Diet and Women’s Health”

Please describe your research.

“In my research, I explore significant findings of how what we eat can play a role in the prevention of heart disease, breast cancer and even Alzheimer’s disease in women. My research was conducted with the support of Dr. Kaitlyn Leonard.”

Why did you decide to conduct undergraduate research while at Meredith?

“I am currently a student in Meredith's Pre-Health Careers Certificate Program. I wanted to use my time at Meredith to combine my foundation in the sciences with my experiences in social studies to investigate solutions to social determinants of health. My independent research helped me peel back the layers of how access to healthy food options plays an essential role in alleviating many common diseases women face in the United States.”

Why did you decide to participate in CSA Day?

“I truly enjoyed immersing myself in my research topic and I wanted to share the excitement and applicability of my research findings with my peers and the broader Meredith community.”

What are you most looking forward to on CSA Day?

“I am looking forward to coming together and celebrating the accomplishments of my friends and classmates!”

Jordan Lamont, ‘23: “The Purification of TetR(41) from Serratia marcescensi”

Please describe your research.

“My research focuses on the purification of TetR(41) from Serratia marcescens. I am doing this research with Dr. Andrus. The project is mainly designing and following a cloning strategy to get the gene tetR(41) in S. marc. expressed as the TetR(41) protein and purified from E. coli. The protein is called a repressor protein and it binds to the DNA, blocking the production of a tetracycline resistance gene until tetracycline is physically present in the cell. To get the protein purified, I start with extracting DNA from S. marc., designing primers that target the gene of interest, performing PCR, ligating the product into a cloning vector, transforming the vector into E. coli, re-extracting the gene using restriction enzymes, ligating into an expression vector and finally transforming it again and purifying the expressed protein.”

Why did you decide to conduct undergraduate research while at Meredith?

“We were doing a half-semester project in Molecular Biology and my professor offered for me to continue the project this semester in a 499 class. I really wanted to get this whole thing to work, so I jumped on the opportunity to finish the project and gain lab experience at the same time.”

Why did you decide to participate in CSA Day?

“I’ve wanted to participate, or at least attend, since freshman year, but the pandemic hit and it was either canceled or online my freshman and sophomore year. I was excited to hear that it would be in person this year and decided to take my research and present it!”

What are you most looking forward to on CSA Day?

“I'm honestly looking forward to attending other people's presentations. I love seeing what people are doing in other departments, considering that I basically live in the Science and Math Building. I want to attend as many music ones as possible as well as see my friends present.”

Is there any advice you would give to future CSA Day participants or undergraduate researchers?

“To anyone who decides to participate: watch out for the deadlines! They really creep up on you especially since you may still be working on what you plan on presenting up until CSA day itself. If you have anxiety like me, the poster session is a lot less stressful than a full performance or presentation.”

Interviews compiled by Freya Dahlgren, Opinion Editor



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