Hiram College

Several members of the Hiram College community recently presented research at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual conference in San Diego.

Assistant Professor of Biology Nick Hirsch, Associate Professor of Biology Cara Constance, biochemistry major Alisa Cario ’14, biology major Ken Belter ’13 and neuroscience major Ashley Dillon ’16, attended the conference Nov. 9-13, 2013. The students presented at the Faculty For Undergraduate Neuroscience poster symposium, and Hirsch and Constance presented at the Professional Skills Development and Neuroscience Outreach poster session.

Cario, of Girard, and Belter, of Aurora, both presented research on the western clawed frog, which they conducted alongside Professor Hirsch.

Cario’s presentation “Fetal toxicity assays in Xenopus tropicalis (western clawed frog),” looks at FETAX, an established procedure that grows African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) embryos in possible human agents or factors known to cause malformation. Cario researched using a related species, the western clawed frog (which exhibits a more rabid growth and number of embryos), to establish FETAX in Hiram laboratories.

Belter presented “Homeobox gene mRNA expression during Xenopus tropicalis (western clawed frog) in brain development.” The goal of the project was to observe expression of homeobox genes that are known to be important for neural cell development and determining cell fate in the brain.

Dillon, of Orwell, presented research she conducted with Professor Constance: “Monitoring behavioral rhythms in frog and toad species at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station.” She looked at how the biological clock in many animals has evolved to avoid predators. Constance and Dillon monitored the Western chorus frog, American toad and grey tree frog through different stages of development to record periods of peak activity and ascertain any changes in time of peak activity.

Hirsch and Constance presented: “Bridging the Gap Between Undergraduate Laboratory Coursework and Independent Research: Developmental Genetics of Hindbrain Development in Xenopus tropicalis.” They talked about how incorporating a faculty research project into sophomore-level lab courses has helped prepare students for independent research and research careers.