The Manduca InSTaRs project
Manduca InSTaRs is a collaborative group of undergraduate and faculty researchers in Mathematics and Biology at Kenyon College. We are combining molecular, morphological, and physiological approaches with modeling and statistics to investigate factors that underpin metabolic scaling in the tobacco hawkmoth, Manduca sexta. Research teams consists of 2 or 3 students and a faculty member from Biology and Mathematics working on collaborative projects. The project trains undergraduate students in an interdisciplinary research environment and advances scientific understanding of metabolic scaling. Funding is from the National Science Foundation Interdisciplinary Training for Undergraduates in Biological and Mathematical Sciences (UBM) program and Kenyon College.
Welcome to the 2011 Student Researchers!
Four new students are starting their research this summer with the Manduca InSTaRs project. Kate Connell '13 is working with Profs. Itagaki and Holdener on imaging the Manduca midgut using the new Nikon digital imaging system installed in Prof. Itagaki's laboratory. Kate Haller '13 will be building on our database of metabolic data, examining animals reared on different diets. Stephen Raithel '13 is taking on more of a mathematical focus, developing a model of ontogenetic growth that explicitly incorporates both cell division and cell expansion. Ally Vela Mendoza '12, our expert dissectionist, is continuing her work studying the scaling of midgut mass and volume across the final three instars. Kate H., Stephen, and Ally are all working jointly with Profs. Gillen and Kerkhoff, but all four students will be collaborating closely this summer. The four will join about 30 more Kenyon Summer Science Scholars for a full season of research, interdisciplinary exchange, and Bologna Loaf (see Calvin and Hobbes for details...).
2010-11 a busy year for InSTaRs
The 2010-2011 school year was a busy one for the Manduca InSTaRs - so busy that webpage management got away from us completely!
A Brief Year-in-Review:
We started off the fall by finishing up summer projects for presentation at the KSSS poster session during parents weekend. Jennifer, Nikolas, Nathan, Kyle, and Emily all gave fantastic presentations, and we were joined not only by friends, families, and professors, but also by Dr. Dennis Pearl, from the Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) and Statistics Department at the Ohio State University. Dr. Pearl was our outside evaluator this year, and he seemed to enjoy his visit almost as much as we enjoyed his feedback and his talk, which concerned the statistical basis of phylogenetic inference using large genomic databases.
This year, we also began to put the finishing touches on two manuscripts, both of which are currently in review. Katie Sears '10 and Arianne Messerman '11 co-authored a manuscript with Kerkhoff and Itagaki on the scaling of growth, metabolism, and assimilation, while Aaron Yeoh '12, Kyle Davis '11, and Ally Vela Mendoza '12, along with Hartlaub and Gillen, summarized their work on the expression of digestion and transport proteins in the midgut.
Winter saw the completion of a proposal to the NSF UBM program to renew and expand our program in mathematical biology here at Kenyon. And when we say expand, we mean like a growing caterpillar! Our new faculty group includes fully half of the full time faculty in both departments, working on a variety of problems well beyond our prized caterpillars. We also hope to expand the relationship with MBI that we began with Dr. Pearl's visit by bringing MBI postdocs to Kenyon to teach for a semester and by sending Kenyon faculty to the fabulous workshops held at the MBI. If funded, it would really foster a unique undergraduate culture in mathematical biology.