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Faith Boa

Students Present Research at Kentucky Academy of Science Annual Meeting

Submitted on December 15, 2022

Six seniors from GC’s Science Honors Program recently presented research at the Kentucky Academy of Science Annual Meeting in Morehead, Kentucky. Faith Boa, Hannah Greenhill, Abby Keeton, Hayden Sheroan, Noah Steely, and Paul Stevens presented their research projects, along with hundreds of students from colleges and universities across the Commonwealth. Faith Boa and Paul Stevens were recognized as top-scoring undergraduate students for their poster presentations. 

Faith Boa spent last summer in the lab of Dr. Steven Yanoviak at the University of Louisville, studying the thermal tolerances of two spider species found in central Kentucky. Many organisms require a specific range of temperatures for their survival, which is particularly true for invertebrates such as insects and spiders. Species with lower thermal tolerances may be at greater risk of future population crashes or even extinction, which could have cascading effects through an entire ecosystem. Faith measured the upper thermal tolerances of two species of spiders, Leucauge venusta, an orb-weaving spider that inhabits branches in the cool forest understory, and Pardosa lapidicina, a spider that hunts on the warmer forest floor. As predicted, the ground-dwelling spider (P. lapidicina) had a higher thermal tolerance than the web-spinning spider (L. venustra) in the forest understory. These results suggest that temperature extremes might have different impacts on these two species that occupy different places in our local forest ecosystems. 

Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens spent two months working with Dr. Michael Krische’s research group at the University of Texas in Austin on several steps in the organic synthesis of Formicamycin H, a potentially new antibiotic. Within the past few decades, bacterial strains have evolved resistance to many antibiotics, rendering them ineffective. In 2017, Formicamycin H was isolated from a fungus growing in ant colonies and demonstrated significant potential to inhibit bacterial growth. However, isolating large quantities of this compound from ant colonies is not practical, so research is underway to develop a technique for the total synthesis of Formicamycin H in the lab. Last summer, Paul worked in Dr. Krische’s lab on the synthesis of an intermediate molecule in the total synthesis pathway of Formicamycin H. In his honors thesis, Paul will describe the steps of the total synthesis pathway, focusing on the portion of the pathway that was included in his summer research.

Below is a complete list of all students who participated and their research project titles:

  • Faith Boa – “Upper Thermal Tolerances of the Spiders Leucauge venusta and Pardosa lapidicina.”
  • Hannah Greenhill – “Exposure to Dechlorinated PCB126 is Less Potent Than Exposure to PCB126 with Regards to Offspring Obesity and Diabetes.” Abigail Keeton – “Relative Gene Expression of Astrocyte-Specific Genes in the Spinal Cord Dorsal Horn in Response to Tissue Damage in Neon.”
  • Paul Stevens – “Total Synthesis of Formicamycin H.”
  • Hayden Sheroan - “The Effect of Upper Extremity Blood Flow Restriction Exercises on the Platelet Count in Blood: A Proposed Methodology
  • Noah Steely – “Blood Flow Restriction Exercise and its Effects on Platelet Concentrations.”

To read their research abstracts and see a complete list of research projects from the 2022 meeting, visit the Kentucky Academy of Science’s website.


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