Students Present Research at SEPCHE Session; Schoff ’15 Discovers, Names Bacterial Virus

By diprinziod | December 10, 2014

Earlier this semester, five Arcadia students presented research at the SEPCHE (Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education) Summer Undergraduate Research Poster Session at Gwynedd Mercy University. One student, Courtney Schoff ’15, helped to identify and name a bacterial virus. She presented her findings in “An Optimized Enrichment Technique for the Isolation of Arthrobacter Bacteriophage Species from Soil Sample Isolates.”

Schoff participated in the program’s Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science course, working to categorize Arthrobacter bacteriophages (viruses that infect and reproduce within bacterium). The research is part of a national experiment in bacteriophage genomics and is affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a leader in biomedical research.

Working in the research lab of Dr. David Dunbar, associate professor of biology at Cabrini College, Schoff isolated an undiscovered bacteriophage and named it after Arcadia. Upon further research, she found that two phages in the group differed enough from Arcadia to be classified as mutants. She still is working with Dr. Dunbar to explore the physical characteristics that correspond with the mutations.

“I feel that the most priceless advantage to this SEPCHE program was that it really provided a hands-on way to learn about virology and microbiology,” said Schoff, who looks to continue researching in the field of virology. “I am confident that the things I learned in this class will stay with me forever.”

Other students who participated in the SEPCHE Summer Research Program and presented at Gwynedd Mercy were Kiara Buccellato ’15, Erin Moran ’15, and Jessica Shotwell ’15 who presented “Medical Roulette: The Influence of Gaming and Risk Taking on Medical Decisions,” and Meaghan Drumm ’15, who presented “Effects of Predatory Fish on Invasive & Native Mosquito Reproduction: Testing the Naive Prey Hypothesis.”

Dr. Christopher Binckley, assistant professor of biology, believes that the poster session “allowed [Arcadia] students to interact with other undergraduates at SEPCHE institutions by showcasing their exciting research and gaining valuable feedback from local science professors.”