Faculty and Student Research

Turtle Lab

Dr. David Bowne's Lab

Spatial population dynamics of aquatic turtles

Dr. Bowne and his students are conducting long-term studies of painted turtles in northern Virginia and on the Elizabethtown College campus to determine what factors influence the populations of these animals.Amphibian use of agricultural streams: They are determining the factors that influence the presence and abundance of salamanders in agricultural streams in Lancaster County, PA.Antibiotic resistance in the environment: Dr. Bowne and Dr. Wohl are conducting a landscape-level analysis of the factors that contribute to antibiotic resistance in soil bacteria. They are investigating the role of land use and soil metals in causing antibiotic resistance.Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN): Dr. Bowne is a founding member of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded collaborative network of ecologists at primarily undergraduate institutions. The mission of this network is to enhance ecological research and teaching at undergraduate colleges.

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Dr. Diane Bridge's Lab

Using the invertebrate Hydra to study stem cells and diseases of aging

Hydra species are morphologically simple invertebrates with relatively few identifiable cell types. Surprisingly, many genes important for understanding human diseases are also present in Hydra. Dr. Bridge and the students working with her are currently using Hydra to study the biology of aging. Previous studies suggest that members of the species Hydra vulgaris can survive indefinitely without declines in health, while members of the species Hydra oligactis experience increasing physical deterioration and eventually death following reproduction. Dr. Bridge and her students are working to determine the causes of the extreme difference in lifespan between the species. Using approaches including analysis of gene expression, modification of gene expression, and elimination of specific cell types, they are investigating the roles of several genes which could potentially be involved in maintaining Hydra stem cell populations and extending lifespan. Future research plans include use of next-generation DNA sequencing techniques to identify genes involved in protecting cells from stress-induced damage.

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Dr. Jane Cavender

Dr. Jane Cavender's Lab

Investigation of Simian Virus 40 (SV40) Induced Tumorigenesis

Our lab focuses on elucidating the mechanisms of cellular transformation by the SV40 T antigen oncoprotein. Student groups are investigating how this oncoprotein binds to specific host proteins; how the protein is able to block differentiation; or which of the protein's functions/activities cause increases in nucleolar number and size. These properties are then correlated to T antigen's ability to transform cells. If the specific functions that are necessary and sufficient for transformation can be identified, then more appropriate chemotherapeutics can be designed to target these critical activities.

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Turtle Lab

Dr. Anya Goldina's Lab

Behavioral endocrinology lab

The ability to survive in one’s environment is highly dependent on the animal’s ability to identify social status, mating willingness, and competition state of other individuals within its social group. Animals use multiple sources of information to learn about their environment and to assess their own status within a social hierarchy. In my lab, we use local crayfish species to understand how social environment and social experience mediate social status establishment. Crayfish communicate by releasing chemical signals into the water, which communicate information about individual molt status, sex, social status, and species identity. We are particularly interested in understanding how social experience combines with the chemical signals that crayfish perceive from other individuals around them to modify their behavior. We are also comparing chemical communication in native and invasive crayfish species in the local watersheds. Current projects in the lab focus on examining species-specific responses to chemical signals produced by invasive and native crustacean species in different social contexts. We hope to apply our findings in developing more effective methods for preventing and eradicating invasive crustaceans.

Current projects include:

  1. Discrimination behavior of invasive crayfish species to diverse chemical signals
  2. Assessing the relationship between chemical communication and social experience
  3. The effect of social status on serotonin sensitivity
  4. Role of communication networks in social experience and social status stability

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Dr. Tom Murray

Dr. Tom Murray's Lab

Lake and Stream Restoration

Dr. Murray's lab is involved in a variety of water quality projects involving lakes and streams. He and his students study the role of wetland and littoral zone plants on downstream water quality, particularly their role in reducing nitrate in surface waters. In addition, the lab is part of the Conewago Initiative (www.Conewagoinitiative.net), a long term, multiagency program to restore and monitor the Conewago Creek watershed. In that project, he and his students are monitoring the long term restoration of a portion of the Conewago at Hershey Meadows. He is also a member of EREN, the Ecological Research as Education Network (www.erenweb.org) and he and his students have conducted research through the EREN RBAST (Riparian Buffer and Stream Temperature Project). His current research interests include neonicotinoid pesticides and oyster growth.

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Dr. Deb Wohl

Dr. Deb Wohl's Lab

Study of Atopic Dermatitis and Hospital Delivery Practices

The overall aim of this study is to determine whether there is a significant positive relationship between the administration of antibiotics during a vaginal delivery and the development of atopies (e.g., eczema, asthma, or allergies) in children under the age of 2. Specifically, we are conducting a retrospective cohort study to analyze medical records of women who gave birth by vaginal delivery either with or without intrapartum antibiotics and the medical records of their children. The study will determine whether children delivered by vaginal delivery with intrapartum antibiotics have a greater risk of developing atopic dermatitis than their counterparts.

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Dr. Deb Wohl and Dr. David Bowne

Dr. Deb Wohl and Dr. David Bowne's Lab

A Landscape Perspective on Antibiotic Resistance

Dr. David Bowne and I are collaborating on this study of antibiotic resistance in the environment. The presence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a pressing public health problem. The fight against antibiotic resistance is primarily focused on clinical settings. However, antibiotic resistant bacteria are found in the environment for a multitude of reasons. As part of a large-scale study of antibiotic resistance in soil inhabiting bacteria (i.e., Enterobacter spp.), we are currently studying variables such as metal pollution and land-use that may specifically contribute to the threat of antibiotic resistance.

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Dr. Jodi Yorty

Dr. Jodi Yorty's Lab

Neuroendocrine modulation of the immune response to cancer

Psychological stress-induced and clinically-administered glucocorticoids suppress the immune system resulting in increased susceptibility to human disease and decreased responses to vaccination. The overall goal of my research program at Elizabethtown College is to assess the effects of stress hormones on immune function and cancer progression. More specifically, I am interested in defining the cellular and molecular effects of stress hormones on the anti-tumor CD8+ T cell immune response and the in vitro and in vivo progression of cancer. My research program is highly integrative and involves both cellular and molecular biological techniques. This provides an opportunity for undergraduate students interested in a wide range of disciplines to participate in research.

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