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Gerald and Sally DeNardo Science Scholars 2008

The vision of the Gerald and Sally DeNardo Science Scholars program is to support the undergraduate research experience of outstanding science students with Santa Clara University faculty mentors. Scholars receive academic year and summer research awards, with additional resources for supplies and travel. The program is funded through a generous endowment created by Gerald and Sally DeNardo.

Introducing

Amanda Lieu, Class of 2008, Biology major, Biotechnology minor
Dr. Christelle Sabatier, Lecturer of Biology
Amanda Lieu is working on understanding how the heavy metal toxin cadmium, a well-known carcinogen, induces expression of a protective protein in the nematode worm, C. elegans. Specifically, she has identified a DNA sequence that is responsible for turning on expression of the protective protein in response to cadmium and is now setting out to identify transcription factors that control gene expression in response to cadmium in the worm's environment.

Alexandra M. Lewis, Class of 2009, Physics major, International Business minor
Dr. John Birmingham, Associate Professor of Physics
Title: Experimental investigation and mathematical characterization of slow spike-rate adaptation in a crustacean stretch receptor - Sensory neurons translate sensory stimuli into trains of neural impulses known as "spikes", with larger stimuli generally eliciting a faster spiking rate. A neuron's spiking, however, depends not only on the current stimulus, but also on what has occurred in the past. Ali will investigate this history dependence, known as "spike rate adaptation", in a crustacean stretch-sensitive neuron. She will use both experimental and mathematical approaches.

Gregory Stettler, Class of 2009, Biochemistry major, Biology minor
Dr. Brian McNelis, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Greg will be synthesizing analogs of peptide nucleic acids (PNA’s), which are backbone modified DNA-like molecules and bind DNA in a sequence specific manner. In these analogs, the nucleotide base-containing monomers are linked together using a new and highly efficient reaction to prepare a triazole backbone, and we call these DNA analogs Triazole Nucleic Acids, or TNA's. The goal of this work is to build a long chain of these monomer subunits and to study the DNA binding of the TNA compounds.

Michael J. Hayes, Class of 2010, Biochemistry major, Music minor
Dr. Steven Suljak, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Mike Hayes is developing oligonucleotide ligands, termed aptamers, that can signal the presence of peptides and proteins with specific post-translational modifications. Such aptamers could lead to an increased ability to signal the presence and study the effects of protein variants as they relate to specific disease states.

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