Do your research

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Congratulations to Sarah Hagans whose poster was accepted at the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference.  Most S3′s are working on their  research projects now, but Sarah became interested in this project and wanted to begin last fall so she has a bit of a head start.

Here is the abstract of her poster:

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“It has been reported that some species of spiders are fluorescent, however very little is known about the evolutionary significance or the chemical nature of fluorescent compounds in Opiliones. These specimens were captured using black light in Cusuco National Park, Honduras.  They glowed most intensely under ultraviolet (UV) light. The fluorescence was localized to specific pattern on the carapace and was distributed intensely throughout the palps. It appears that the legs are somewhat fluorescent, although hairs on the legs may mask the fluorescence to some extent.  Carapace, palps, and legs from 39 specimens were homogenized half in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) and the other half in 95% Ethanol, and the extracts were monitored for fluorescence using a fluorescence plate reader and TLC.  The results of this assay revealed the fluorescent compounds remained with insoluble material after PBS extraction but not in Ethanol.  Studies are ongoing to characterize the fluorophores and we plan to compare them to other fluorophores identified in other arachnids. We would like to summarize these preliminary findings in a poster presentation.”

We wish Sarah luck this weekend!

Contributed by Maria Siopsis, Co-director of the Scots Science Scholars

Aw, Bats!

Big Brown bats in the rafters of historic Anderson Hall

This has been an exciting week for the Natural Sciences Division, especially Dr. Dave Unger and Scots Science Scholar Thomas Moore.

The effort to relocate the bats that had made their residence in historic Anderson Hall has moved forward another step this week with the installation of the bat condo on campus.

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Dr. Unger is interviewed by the media as the bat condo is installed behind him.

Learn  more about the effort by clicking on the following links.

 http://www.wbir.com/story/news/local/maryville-blount/2014/02/26/bat-condos-installed-on-maryville-college-campus/5844973/

www.knoxnews.com/videos/detail/maryville-college-new-bat-condo/

http://highlandecho.com/new-bat-condominiums-bring-educational-benefits-unique-environmental-significance-to-campus-community/

The connection here is that the S3 program allows for each student to begin working on a research project in the first year.  Thomas Moore, who is planning on double majoring in biology and environmental studies, is working with Dr. Unger on this project.  He plans to turn the work into a project that lasts for his entire college career and that will culminate in his senior thesis.  Funding from S3 has helped with the purchase of equipment that will be used to monitor the bat houses.

In the Knoxville News Sentinel article below, Thomas says, “If we do get the bats to inhabit the houses, it will give a good idea of the population of bats we have in and around the area….It’s cool that the school has actually agreed to fund the project.”

www.knoxnews.com/news/2014/feb/26/maryville-college-gives-new-home-to-displaced/

We wish Thomas and Dr. Unger great luck and look forward to hearing their reports as the project continues!

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Dr. Dave Unger and Thomas Moore (lower left) are pictured together during the S3 summer experience, when Dr. Unger introduced the group to GPS and orienteering