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3203 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, OR 97202, USA

Join the Biology department as seniors talk about what they have learned so far during their thesis research.

Jon DeVries- It’s a mut point: the influence of spontaneous mutation on competitive ability in Daphnia magna: Understanding how organisms acquire their traits, from the origin of genetic variation to the fitness effects of phenotypes, is a fundamental goal of evolutionary biology. Despite this, the fitness effects of accumulated spontaneous mutations are deeply understudied, even less so in situations where specific mutation events are identified. To fill this gap, separate Daphnia magna lineages that have accumulated spontaneous mutations had their genomes sequenced, then were placed in competition to determine how specific mutation events affect the fitness correlate, competitive ability.

Bean Fischer- Honey I ate the kids: A neural investigation of cichlid maternal mouthbrooding: Mouthbrooding is a costly parental care behavior that puts the female Astatotilapia burtoni into a two-week starvation period. During an intensive fast that allows her eggs to develop inside the mouth, an array of neural mechanisms regulates the balance of hunger inducing and suppressing cues. Through fluorescent staining techniques of cichlid brains, we will understand more about the expression of hunger-related neuropeptides in the brooding cichlid brain and explore the question: how are A.burtoni neural processes producing maternal care-induced starvation?

Nareg Kedjejian- An Enzymatic Biosensor for the Detection of Acetylcholine in Xenopus Laevis Brains: Changes in neurotransmitter levels can affect mood, behavior, and disease progression. Context-dependent behaviors, such as vocalizations produced by frogs, may be facilitated by fast changes in acetylcholine levels in a region of the brain called the parabrachial nucleus. These changes can be detected by a biosensor, which is a non-invasive device that can measure neurotransmitter levels in real time. An enzymatic biosensor was fabricated and tested on X. laevis brains to determine if certain characteristics of calling were associated with changes in acetylcholine levels.


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