Dominique Desmarattes is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, pursuing a bachelor’s degree. She is majoring in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Business Analytics. Upon graduating, she plans to pursue a career in bioinformatics where she can use computational biology to develop software tools and analyze biological data. She has been working as an undergraduate research assistant in the Fritz Laboratory since 2019, performing research on the Bt resistance project. For the past two years, she has assisted in culturing thousands of larvae through multiple generations to determine which genes are critical for weight gain on a Cry toxin-containing diet.
This past semester, she was given the opportunity to continue her work on the Bt resistance project and perform data analysis on the resistance of a common lepidopteran species which has evolved to become resistant to Cry toxins produced by Bt-expressing corn. Under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Taylor, they are examining how different diet treatments impact larval weight gain on two types of diets that include toxins and control diets that do not. She is currently using R programming to evaluate the data they have gathered to assess the experiment's outcomes. This summer, Dominique continued her analysis as an AGNR SOARE undergraduate fellow where she presented her analytical research of the Bt resistance project as a capstone project for the AGNR SOARE fellowship.
Molly Jones is a civil and environmental engineering major, minoring in professional writing. She works in the Burghardt lab contributing to research that studies how different leaf litter manipulations affect overwintering insects. Through this research, they hope to better understand how different types of lawn care impact surrounding insects. Molly hopes to continue this research by studying soil nutrients and microbes and how they both impact insect population and diversity.
Grace Soltis is a Biology student with a specialization in Ecology and Evolution and a minoring in Entomology. Currently, she is very excited to be researching the unique impacts of Brood X cicadas on the food webs of Maryland forests. For her entomology honors thesis, she will be observing changes in bird predation pressures throughout the cicada emergence. Grace is also a lab technician in the Gruner lab, working on Emerald Ash Borer and its biocontrol agents. In the future, she plans to continue to pursue her passion for insects as she works towards a PhD in entomology or ecology.