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Community college students spend summer at SIU in intense research

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Ten students from Southern Illinois community colleges are spending the summer working with the scientists and researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the SI Bridges to the Baccalaureate program. Front row, from left: Jewel Green, Taryn Sauerbrunn, Caleb Gentry, Rebekkah Schemonia, Alexis Pennington, and Hannah Phillips. Back row: Jace Moore and Braeden Irby. Not pictured: Emily Duran and Kelsee Dodd.

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Ten students from Southern Illinois community colleges are spending the summer working with the scientists and researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale as part of a program aimed at helping them earn a bachelor’s degree.

SI Bridges to the Baccalaureate consists of 12 weeks of intense research experience with SIU faculty mentors in SIU research labs, beginning June 13.

During the Summer Research Immersion program, each scholar will design their summer research study, complete an original research project, conduct literature review and analyze data. At the end of the project, each will make a research poster and present their findings during the 19th annual Summer Research Symposium on July 29 at SIU.

Hannah Phillips, of Carbondale, currently attends John A. Logan College in Carterville and plans to transfer to SIU in fall of 2023. Her research mentor is Scott Hamilton-Brehm, associate professor of microbiology. Their research project is “Increasing accuracy of analytical methods reporting cyanobacterial cell density in relation to their toxin production.”

Braeden Irby, of Herrin, currently attends John A. Logan College in Carterville and plans to transfer to SIU in fall of 2023. His research mentor is Judy Davie, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the SIU School of Medicine. Their research project is “Using CRISPR to understand cancer.”

Taryn Sauerbrunn, of Marion, currently attends John A. Logan College in Carterville and plans to transfer to SIU this fall. Her research mentor is Matthew Young, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the SIU School of Medicine. Their research project is “Determining the usefulness of using mitochondrial DNA as a blood-based biomarker for endometrial carcinoma.”

Alexis Pennington, of Carterville, currently attends John A. Logan College there and plans to transfer to SIU in spring of 2024. Her research mentor is Laxmi Sagwan-Barkdoll, research education specialist in the School of Biological Sciences. Their research project is “Biodiversity of epiphytic bryophytes impacted by mesophication.”

Caleb Gentry, of Olmstead, currently attends Shawnee Community College in Ullin and plans to transfer to SIU this fall. His research mentor is Guillaume Bastille-Rousseau, assistant professor with the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory. Their research project is “Mammal occupancy in Southern Illinois.”

Rebekkah Schemonia, Pomona, currently attends Shawnee Community College in Ullin and plans to transfer to SIU this fall. Her research mentor is Laxmi Sagwan-Barkdoll, research education specialist in the School of Biological Sciences. Their research project is “Role of active site loop region in the function of watermelon glyoxysomal malate dehydrogenase (MDH).”

Kelsee Dodd, of Marion, currently attends John A. Logan College in Carterville and plans to transfer to SIU in fall of 2023. Her research mentor is Brent Pease, assistant professor in the School of Agricultural Sciences. Their research project is “Assessing coat color morphology of American black bears in North America.”

Jace Moore, of Ava, previously attended John A. Logan College in Carterville and transferred to SIU in fall of 2021. His research mentor is Ning Yang, assistant professor in the School of Computing. Their research project is “Using machine learning to detect distracted drivers.”

Jewel Green, of Murphysboro, currently attends John A. Logan College in Carterville and plans to transfer to SIU this fall. Her research mentor is Michael Eichholz, professor in the School of Biological Sciences. Their research project is “Feeding rates in songbird nestlings based on species and location.”

Emily Duran, of Murphysboro, previously attended John A. Logan College in Carterville and transferred to SIU in fall of 2020. Her research mentors are Karen Renzaglia, retired professor of plant biology, and Jason Henry, currently an assistant professor at Southeast Missouri State University, who began working on Duran’s project while completing his doctorate in plant biology at SIU. Their research project is “Do development or desiccation have an impact on callose in conducting cell walls of the moss Polytrichum?”

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