Summer Research Program Hosting Five Projects, Six Student Fellows

May 8, 2013

This summer, six Mary Baldwin University students will spend two months delving into complex research through the Summer Research Fellows Program, covering topics ranging from cell communication to sustainability in Augusta County.

All projects for summer 2013 are funded by a grant from the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation, and Ever Ahead: The Campaign for Mary Baldwin University is raising money to establish endowed funds that will offer future student fellows fruitful, hands-on educational opportunities. The Virginia M. Strickler Research Fund, established in November 2012, is the first endowment to support the program and will begin generating revenue in 2014.

Collaborative faculty-student research is an integral part of a Mary Baldwin education, but projects have typically been funded through one-time grants, creating uncertainty for prospective students interested in undergraduate research. A reliable and consistent funding stream will ensure the continuation of outstanding student research opportunities for years to come.

Director of Sponsored Programs and Undergraduate Research Lydia Petersson believes students in any discipline can benefit from the summer program. “Students who sometimes struggle with abstract concepts in the classroom grasp them when they are grounded in concrete action, and students who find theory easy are challenged to put it into practice,” she said. “Faculty-student collaborative research provides the best kind of career preparation.”

Astrid Salarda ’14 will participate in a longitudinal study of sustainability in greater Augusta County with Joseph Sprangel, assistant professor of business. “As a student fellow, I hope to broaden my understanding of statistical data analysis by tracking survey completion through phone, email, and/or in person,” she said. “The project will not only enhance my academic aspirations, but the well-being of the community as well — presented with valuable information, executives will be able to manage their businesses more effectively.”

Paul Deeble, associate professor of biology, will work with rising senior Sophia Stone on a research project investigating communication between cancer cells and the immune system in hopes of developing a biomarker for detecting advanced prostate cancer.  “Because of the level of sophistication and dedication that Sophia brings to our project, I am looking forward to this summer in the research lab more than any other time in my career,” Deeble said.

The robust research projects this summer are sure to keep student fellows busy. Here is a sneak peek at each project:

  • The Role of Arf6 in Regulating β1-integrin Expression and Facilitating Cell Migration
    • Faculty Mentor: Anne Allison, assistant professor of biology
    • Student Fellow: Selma Elsarrag ’14


  • Investigation of Interactions Between the LL-37 Peptide and DNA
    • Faculty Mentor: Maria Craig, assistant professor of chemistry
    • Student Fellows:  Irmamarie Avelsgard ’15 and Michelle Radford ‘14


  • The Human Cathelicidin Antimicrobial Peptide LL-37 in Prostate Cancer
    • Faculty Mentor: Paul Deeble, associate professor of biology
    • Student Fellow: Sophia Stone ’14


  • Enabling Memristor Fabrication In-House at Mary Baldwin University
    • Faculty Mentor: Nadine Gergel-Hackett, assistant professor of physics
    • Student Fellow: Inna Kirilyuk ’14


  • Longitudinal Study of Sustainability in Greater Augusta County
    • Faculty Mentor: Joseph Sprangel, assistant professor of business
    • Student Fellow: Astrid Salarda ’14