Name: Caleb Opoku Sarfo

Home Institution: Norwich University

Year in Fall 2023: Sophomore (2nd semester)

Research Institution: Dr. Bruno Martorelli Di Genova Lab (Stafford Hall, UVM)

What I am researching: We know that the “TGME49_288540” gene, which we refer to as the 28 gene, is a nucleoside transporter gene and is essential to the life cycle of Toxoplasma gondii. Past experiments conducted by my mentor involved completely knocking out this gene, which resulted in the death of the parasites. To know what makes this gene so essential, I inserted a “tetracycline response element” in the promoter region of the 5’UTR using CRISPR technology, hypothesizing that this will allow us to regulate the expression of the gene based on the amount of tetracycline drug present in the environment of the parasite.

Future Goals: After graduating with my nursing degree, I plan to apply to medical school after a few years. I also want to spend more time in research as my interest in it was kindled during this summer program.

DYK (Did You Know?): I love classic BMWs. I want to restore an E30 BMW in the future!

Name: Katherine Veronneau

Home Institution: University of New Hampshire

Year in Fall 2023: Junior

Research Institution/company: University of Vermont, Dr. Jean Celli research lab

What I am researching: I am researching Brucella abortus, the causative agent for the zoonotic disease brucellosis. Brucella proceeds through an intravacuolar life cycle and uses the Type IV Secretion System to deliver effector proteins into the host cell. The Brucella effector protein, BspF, promotes bacterial replication in a replicative Brucella containing vacuole. This summer I used cloning techniques, fluorescence microscopy, Western blotting and more to investigate localization of BspF and the BspFR3Q mutant in host cells.

Future goals: I am still exploring various career paths, but I thoroughly enjoyed my research this summer. With this in mind, I want to continue doing research and lead my own lab someday!

DYK (Did You Know?): I can solve a Rubik’s cube!

Name: Taylor Ross

Home institution: Castleton University

Year in Fall 2023: Senior

Research institution/company: University of Vermont, Larner College of Medicine, Dr. Knodler’s Lab

What I am researching:  This summer, I worked with the pathogen Providencia alcalifaciens, which is known for its causative agents of diarrhea. Using DNA extracted from fecal samples of children between the ages of 6-24 months admitted for acute gastroenteritis in Bangladesh, our goal was to establish the prevalence of Providencia in comparison to other well-known diarrheal pathogens. These include Campylobacter jejuni, Shigella flexneri/Escherichia coli, and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.  

Future goals: My goal is to become a mental health counselor with a focus in eating disorders.

DYK (Did You Know?): I am a triple jumper at Castleton with two school records.

Name: Brooke Dembkoski

Home institution: Norwich University

Year in Fall 2023: Junior

Research institution/company: Vernal Biosciences

Research Topic:  Plasmid DNA Yield/Quality

E.coli has difficulty carrying high loads of pDNA encoding homopolymaric regions. Due to a higher chance of stress induced recombination, E.coli especially have difficulty carrying these regions for extended periods of time. Centered around culture time variation and growing conditions, the goal of this project is to evaluate whether temperature shift culturing increases pDNA yield while retaining RNA quality and Poly A length. If able to, this could potentially lead into better manufacturing processes that result in higher quality downstream uses in drug discovery, clinical trials, and all types of RNA therapeutics.

Future goals:  I currently have plans on fulfilling a 4-year commitment as an Army Medical Officer post-graduation.  Soon after my time in the U.S. Army, I wish to obtain a career as a Medical Forensic Examiner and specialize in my favorite field, DNA Analysis.

DYK (Did You Know?): Prior to returning to Norwich, I was enlisted as a Military Police Officer for the NH National Guard for almost 3 years!

Name: Willow Quindley

Home institution: Saint Michael’s College

Year in Fall 2023: Senior

Research institution/company: Bia Diagnostics

What I am researching: Assessing the variability in the amount of gluten (parts per million) contained in “gluten-free” oat products using ELISA technology.

Future goals: I would like to explore opportunities for lab work in academia, healthcare or industry.

DYK (Did You Know?): I am learning how to whitewater kayak.

Name: Dylan Sullivan

Home institution: Landmark College

Year in Fall 2023: Senior

Research institution/company: UVM – Dr. Robert Hondal’s biochemistry lab.

What I researched:

While working in his lab I worked to compare the selenocysteine containing enzyme thioredoxin reductase as found in mice to that found in humans, and once having drawn out that comparison, began the step-by-step process of going from in vitro testing conditions with the human enzyme to in vivo testing conditions before leaving his lab after ten weeks of work.

Future goals: My future goal is to be part of a profession where I can be of maximum service to humans and the planet & the next step in that direction seems to be continuing my education in a graduate program.

DYK (Did You Know?): I had the opportunity to intern in Senator Angus King’s office in Washington D.C.

Name: Piotr Babyuk

Home Institution: Community College of Vermont

Year in Fall 2023: Sophomore

Research Institution: Diehl Lab @ UVM

What I am researching: My research focused on norovirus and sapoviruses, and my main objective was to create virus-like particles (VLP) for these viruses. VLP is basically the ‘shell’ of the virus, being non-infectious and containing no DNA/RNA. Due to the difficulty of keeping these viruses alive in a laboratory, VLP must be produced for testing purposes. Afterward, ELISAs can be utilized to test for antibody binding on the VLP.

Name: Hannah Stewart

Home institution: Norwich University 

Year in Fall 2023: Senior

Research institution/company: Prolytix 

What I am researching: I am working with samples from a salt-based fractionation process. The final product is an IVIG. Over the course of the summer, I have used different lab techniques to test the purity of each sample leading up to the final product. 

Future goals: Upon graduation I plan on going to OCS and commissioning as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. From there I intend on going to medical school to become a neuroradiologist. 

DYK (Did You Know?): I used to drag race.