Jeremy Prokop –Integrated Bioscience PhD

I study the regulation and function of the testis determining gene Sry in rats. Through Luciferase assays, various constructs of the 5 prime region of Sry1 are being analyzed for Sry self repression. Then through electrophoresis gel shift assays, the determination of binding sites for Sry can be characterized. As well, I am modeling Sry proteins from various loci to find structural variation that could give insight into alternative selected functions of each loci. Finally, through the use of philosophical and communication literature, I plan on deciphering ways that a new idea can popularize itself, overcoming long held beliefs. In the case of Sry, this means increasing academic understanding that Sry is not only responsible for the testis determination as has been known, but that Sry probably plays a role in adult gene regulation as well.

Hope Ball- Integrated Bioscience PhD

How do mammals get fat and stay fat? Specifically, how do whales do it? That’s what my research is trying to find out. My name is Hope Ball and I’m a student in the Integrative Biosciences Program here at UA. To answer this “heavy” question, I’m looking at a tiny protein called leptin that’s involved in how the body regulates how much you eat and how much energy you burn. The goal is a balance between food intake and energy burn. Whales, and other obese mammals, have found a way to build large fat stores despite this balance and I’m interested in finding out how they do that. My research uses molecular techniques to look at how much protein these animals make and how that protein could be operating compared to non-obese animals as well as seeing if there are differences between sexes, time of year and age. It’s a difficult but fascinating question that could shed some light on how this metabolic system works in humans.

Lara Roketenetz - Integrated Bioscience PhD

I study the interactions of a native biocontrol agent and an invasive plant. The native weevil (Euhrychiopsis lecontei) has shown a shift in feeding preference for the exotic Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) from its coevolved host plant Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum). Lara is interested in looking for genetic differences in the weevil across its range in the United States as well as investigating whether genetic differences occur in populations of weevils that have different species of milfoil as their primary food source. Lara hopes that this information will be useful in determining the suitability of using these weevils in various lakes and ponds as an environmentally-friendly way to control an invasive weed.


Jen Peck–M.S. in Biology

Everyday acute stressors are known to influence increases in blood pressure and have been linked to the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease. My master’s thesis focuses on the physical responses to acute stress in adult male spontaneously hypertensive and normotensive rats. I primarily studied fluctuations in systolic blood pressure, circulating catecholamine concentrations, and variations in circulation within renal interlobular arteries during times of mild stress. I am also investigation the role of nitric oxide in vascular epithelium. I am currently the comparative vertebrate morphology teaching assistant.

Megan Lengyel- MS in Biology

I am investigating how the conditions of the womb of a mother will affect the development of her offspring in nine-banded armadillos. I am using the armadillo because each pregnancy produces four identical clones, which means that any differences observed between offspring can be contributed to the mother’s condition rather than to genetics. I will be measuring blood flow rates, heart rates, and size of fetal armadillos via ultrasound. I hope to determine when changes will arise in development and to see how long changes will persist after birth. I am also gathering new data about the metabolic rate of pregnant and lactating female armadillos. The use of armadillos in research allows for both lab work and field work consisting of road trips and chasing down armadillos with giant nets!


Jeff Hover–M.S. in Biology

Women generally have a much lower incidence of coronary artery disease (CAD) than men and post-menopausal women. This could be attributable to the absence of circulating pregnancy hormones, one of which is called Relaxin. My research will focus primarily on the vascular actions of Relaxin and its effects on coronary vascular function. Using female rats as a menopausal model, our hope is that the administration of Relaxin can help to lower the incidence of CAD in post-menopausal women and men to that of pre-menopausal women. I also teach Anatomy and Physiology Lab as a teaching assistant for the Biology Department.


Ramsey Langford-MS in Biology

I am investigating spotted salamander population dynamics within non-continuous landscapes. The areas I work in are found in Northwestern Ohio where there are a lot of potential barriers to salamander migration; such as miles of flat agricultural landscapes. Spotted salamanders have been known to travel up to 200m in their spring breeding dispersal events. I will be using microsatellites to measure gene flow rates in these populations. I am suggesting that in these areas in NW Ohio there is a lack of connectivity between ponds. Landscape barriers in these areas will limit salamander movement leading to a decreased amount of gene flow throughout these different populations.