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Research Opportunities

Laboratory/field research provides an opportunity to develop and conduct an independent project in an area of interest which could range from environmental studies to drug delivery. Working on a practical, original problem in the laboratory stimulates excitement for science and reinforces what you have encountered in the classroom. This provides you with a hands-on approach to learning and develops critical thinking skills which graduate and professional programs consider invaluable. Students may participate in research as a directed project or as an honors project (see catalog for major requirements). Our faculty have a diverse array of interests and will work with students to develop an appropriate project. This track is available to Biology majors interested in careers in research, industry, and college level teaching. These students should prepare for graduate study on either the master’s or doctoral level. Their undergraduate requirements include those listed under the general track major. Also strongly recommended are one or more of the following: BIOL 315, 320, 404, 405, 408, and 491.

For all emphases, a maximum of 6 hours total correspondence, independent study credit, teaching assistantships, and/or BIOL 470-479 can be applied toward the major.

Environmental Studies

Biology faculty are involved in the State Park ATBI (all taxa biodiversity inventory) project, specifically at Panther Creek State Park. The ATBI project, originally implemented in the Great Smoky Mountain National park, seeks to initially inventory and characterize all life within the park.

 Students may also participate in a variety of water-quality monitoring projects involving local streams and reservoirs.


Drug Development

The development and testing of anti-cancer and anti-fungal drugs is another area of research being conducted in the Biology Department. We have facilities and equipment for organic synthesis and purification and analysis of these compounds. We also evaluate their biological effects alone or in combination with other drugs against cells in culture including leukemia, brain, and breast cancer lines. We also evaluate these agents as well as antifungal drugs in yeast and thousands of yeast mutant strains.

Cellular Signaling

Cellular communication is a rapid evolving area of study and it is now recognized that most drugs act by modulating signaling pathways. We have an ongoing project in collaboration with scientists at the University of Tennessee where we study the structure and function of a specific receptor on the surface of yeast which is a model for hundreds of similar receptors in humans.

Recent Research Projects

Examples of recent research projects include:

Mary and Chase examined the cytotoxicity of an anticancer agent that was recently developed by medicinal chemists at the University of Tennessee. They looked at the effects of the drug on yeast, breast cancer, and leukemia cells in both a free or lipid-associated form.

Heather and Maggie used a yeast deletion library of over 5000 yeast strains to screen antifungal or anticancer drugs. Each strain has one of 6000 potential genes inactivated and the resulting change in drug sensitivity can help us better understand their mechanisms of action.

Laura examined the effects of a novel lipid-like anticancer agent on leukemia cells either alone or in combination with a widely used agent, doxorubicin.

John established standard ATBI survey plots at Panther Creek State Park and complied a tree inventory database for those sites.

Recent Presentations

Recent examples of student or faculty presentations of research findings include:

Ben gave a presentation at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences on the effect of modulating sphingolipids on cell signaling in yeast.

Benjamin gave a presentation at the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference on pheromone sensitivity in yeast as ergosterol levels are altered.

Dr. Wright gave a presentation at the American Society of Cell Biology in Washington, D.C. on the effects of ketoconazole on signal transduction in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Research Opportunities Off Campus

While we have ample resources to conduct research at Carson-Newman, some students may elect to pursue research projects off campus at a larger research university or during the summer at another college. We have made accommodations for students to work on projects at several locations including the University of Tennessee, Wake Forest University, and Maryville College. They may also make arrangements for a variety of internship opportunities.

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