Manduca InSTaRs News Archive
2010 InSTaRs research program builds continuity
Based on their proposals to the Kenyon Summer Science Scholars program in February, we have selected an outstanding crop of new research students, including two students returning from last summer's cohort. Jennifer Garbett '11 will continue her work with Profs. Holdener and Itagaki, modelling the morphology of the Manduca midgut based on the distribution and dimensions of microvilli. Jennifer's modelling will benefit greatly from microscopy data collected during the academic year by Arianne Messerman '11. Nikolas Tun '12 is also returning to the InSTaRs project this year, though he is shifting to Prof. Kerkhoff's lab where he will be measuring how the scaling of growth and assimilation respond to variation in food quality and temperature. His work builds on that of several previous InSTaRs students, including Katie Sears '10. We are also welcoming three new InSTaRs students. Nathan Huey '13 will be working on alternative regression approaches to scaling studies with Prof. Hartlaub, based on metabolic scaling data collected by many student researchers over the years. Kyle Davis '11 and Emily Lewandowski '13 will be working with Profs. Gillen and Hartlaub, extending work quantifying how transporter protein and enzyme expression change across the caterpillar's developmental stages.
This summer's research projects emphasize continuity, building on previous results and asking new questions that further refine our understanding of how the energetics of life changes as we move from small to large.
Annual trip to SICB takes involves even more InSTaRs students in 2010
The 2010 annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology featured presentations by a whopping eight Kenyon students, six of them representing work on the InSTaRs project. The January trip to Seattle allowed the students not just to present their work, but to interact with leaders in the field. Katie Sears '10 and Arianne Messerman '11 (pictured below with Prof. Itagaki) presented their poster on the scaling of growth, metabolism and assimilation. Their work tests whether current models of ontogenetic growth correctly incorporate metabolic scaling phenomena. Also working as partners were Aaron Yeoh '12 and Rob Long '10, who characterized and statistically modelled ontogenetic changes in gut transporter expression based on real time PCR data. Dhruv Vig '11 presenented a poster describing a stochastic dynamic model of caterpillar foraging in response to inducible plant defenses. Finally, Nikolas Tun '12 presented his work on the scaling of caterpillar surface area, based on serial cross-sections and mathematical reconstruction using parametric curves. Students and faculty alike enjoyed the meeting, as well as sampling Seattle's eclectic mix of pan-Pacific cultures and cuisine.
Summer 2009 InSTaRs student research teams use the interface between math and biology to explore the interface between organism and environment.
Over the summer, our seven Kenyon student researchers and five faculty worked together on three inter-related projects spanning from the protein expression to the evolution of feeding behavior. The collaborations began at the end of the fall 2008 semester, culminating in the submission of proposals to the Kenyon Summer Science Scholars program in February. Project preparations extended through the spring, and extended through the 10 week summer research session.
Autumn: Presentation (and Assessment) Time!
The 2009 students have been spanning the globe to present their results to peers, faculty, parents, and the larger scientific community. Jennifer Garbett '11 and Rob Long '10 kicked off the semester by presenting their research to the math department as part of the weekly Math Monday event. Jennifer also took her presentation to the MAA Mathfest in Portland, Oregon. Rob also joined Dhruv Vig '11 and Dr. Kerkhoff at the first annual Undergraduate Research Conference in Biomathematics at the National Institute for Mathematical Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) in Knoxville, Tennessee. Both students presented posters (Rob's in collaboration with Aaron Yeoh '12) and attended talks by other undergrads on a wide variety of topics in mathematical biology. Finally, all seven students presented posters at the Kenyon Summer Science Scholars poster session, held at the Kenyon Athletic Center on Oct. 16.
In addition to students, faculty, parents, and trustees, the poster session was also attended by Dr. Van Savage, from the Biomathematics Department at UCLA, who was serving as the outside evaluator of our program. And since we're on the topic of presentations, I should add that Dr. Savage gave a fascinating presentation on his work investigating and explaining scaling in the sleep patterns of mammals. We look forward to incorporating his feedback into the future of our project.
Manduca InSTaRs students present at 2009 Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), in Boston.
Over the winter recess, Kenyon students Ryan Bash (Biology, '10), Anna Frutiger (Molecular Biology, '09), Sasha Minium (Biology, '09), and Katie Woods (Math and Music, '09) were among the eight Kenyon students who presented research posters at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), in Boston (January 3-7, 2009).
Manduca InSTaRs faculty share their approach with fellow educators.
In October, 2008, faculty members Harry Itagaki and Drew Kerkhoff attended an HHMI-funded workshop on Interdisciplinarity in the Sciences held at Trinity University, in San Antonio, Texas. Prof. Kerkhoff delivered a presentation on the impetus and inner-workings of our program, and both he and Prof. Itagaki enjoyed many of the other presentations and conversing with their fellow scientists about how to introduce undergraduates, who are still assimilating disciplinary knowledge, to an authentically interdisciplinary perspective on science.
Dr. Kerkhoff was also invited to Swarthmore College for a panel discussion on biomathematics in undergraduate science education, specifically at liberal arts colleges. Along with faculty from Pomona and Bowdoin, Kerkhoff met with members of the biology and mathematics departments, who were in the process of organizing an interdisciplinary postdoctoral position.
National Science Foundation Grant
Members of the biology and math departments have received a three-year NSF grant to investigate metabolic scaling.