Jove scholarship program helps students complete research

Amanda Simmons draws blood from feral hogs. The serum is used to look for leptospira interrogens. Photo credit: Toria Smith

Amanda Simmons draws blood from feral hogs. The serum is used to look for leptospira interrogens. Photo by: Toria Smith

TORIA SMITH
Reporter

Students in STEM fields at NSU can complete undergraduate research through the JOVE program, a special scholarship opportunity only available at NSU.

The JOVE program, directed by Christopher Lyles, was initially a joint venture between NSU and NASA but has evolved to allow students to work within any STEM field.

“Every project is different, but 90 percent of the students currently in the program are doing research in biology or chemistry,” Lyles said.

Biology major Rebekah Taylor is currently using the zebrafish as a genetic model for human systems.

“Zebrafish systems, like their nervous and cardiovascular systems, closely mimic ours,” Taylor said. “They have similar reactions to things like medication and stress.”

Taylor focuses on how the zebrafish’s genes and gene mutations affect the regeneration rates of their tails.

“We catalog the regeneration rates by humanely removing the dorsal tail surgically and measuring the regeneration of the tale over a period of two weeks,” Taylor said. “Recently, we have been able to sequence DNA from the cut portion of the tail to look at the fish’s genes.”

Christina Arrechavala, scientific inquiry and biology major in the Louisiana Scholars’ College, is currently studying the molecular docking of antibiotics.

“I’m using a computer program to dock the structures of antibiotics to bacteria in the body and applying them to other bacteria that they are not effectively working against,” Arrechavala said. “I will move on to developing and manipulating antibiotics in real life if this part is successful.”

Arrechavala has been working on this project for about one and a half years and plans to incorporate her findings into her undergraduate thesis.

“Students who participate in Jove really love what they’re doing,” Lyles said. “You have to love it to dedicate hours to this work every week on top of your regular class load. I’m proud of the way every single JOVE student has responded to me asking them to raise the bar.”

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