Matt Nikzad knew he wanted to work in the St. Leger lab after reading their paper about preventing the spread of malaria by blocking the salivary glands of mosquitoes with the products of a transgenic fungus. He now studies the properties of the fungus, Metarhizium, and its relationship with both plants and insects. Matt has been able to apply his knowledge of genetics concepts in order to brainstorm and troubleshoot efficient experimental methods. He is currently propagating several Metarhizium strains over ten generations to look for evolution (genetic drift) in the absence of natural selection. Strain stability is a crucial component of risk assessment and large-scale production. Matt has plans to inoculate corn with Metarhizium to investigate its effects on plant growth and insect feeding capabilities.
Jane Quackenbush is a general biology and psychology major, minoring in human development. She works in the Fritz lab, contributing to studies investigating the genetic mechanisms behind Cry toxin insecticide resistance in Helicoverpa zea moths. Her work specifically involves examining the role of protein-coding variants and differential gene expression of Aminopeptidase N genes in resistance in H. Zea. In the future, she plans to further her work through the Biology Honors program developing an Honors Thesis.
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