Dr. Rodney King and Dr. Claire Rinehart, Professors in WKU’s Department of Biology, co-mentored Lynch and Stewart over the past year. Dr. King attended the symposium with the students.
“Kelly and Josh were chosen to represent the WKU Genome Discovery and Exploration class based on their performance and the essays they wrote as part of the application process. They both have demonstrated characteristics of scientists including curiosity, enthusiasm and perseverance,” Dr. King said.
The WKU Biology Department has participated in the SEA-PHAGES program since the fall of 2009. The Genome Discovery and Exploration Program at WKU is designed to engage freshman students in meaningful and authentic research that produces publishable results.
Course participants isolate and sequence novel viruses from the soil, contribute the genomic sequences to a public database and address scientific questions of viral diversity and evolution.
During the symposium, Lynch and Stewart met the Principal Investigator of the SEA-PHAGES program and HHMI professor, Dr. Graham Hatfull. They also attended a presentation by Nobel Laureate Dr. Martin Chalfie. Dr. Chalfie shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Osamu Shimomura and Robert T. Tsien for their work on the Green Fluorescent Protein, a biological marker molecule that revolutionized cell science. Dr. Chalfie is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
A number of additional Gatton Academy students contributed to the work presented at the symposium. Gatton students who were co-authors on the presentation include: Katherine G. Allen, Justin M. Bunch, Erin E. Burba, Lydia M. Buzzard, Rachel C. Cook, Milan M. Doan, Bradford T. Hull, Peter A. Kaminski, Elizaveta M. Khenner, Allyson R. King, Paige D. Kington, John D. Meyers III, Melissa B. Murphy, NaKeya L. Owens, Vir D. Patel, Kathryn R. Price, Ananya Sharma and Erika N. Stairs.
About the Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, the Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. Gatton Academy students enroll early as full-time WKU students to pursue their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Newsweek named the Gatton Academy the number one public high school in the United States in 2012 and 2013.