Science Students Do Research at UK Labs

sayreSome especially talented Sayre high school students are acquiring firsthand research experience in science labs at the University of Kentucky.

Elizabeth Schwarcz, a junior, is studying a genetic mutation that causes spinal muscular atrophy in fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster.

Clara de Castro, a sophomore, is investigating synaptic transmission in fruit fly larvae.

In fact, following a year of research, Clara authored a paper, “Analysis of various physiological salines for heart rate, CNS function, and synaptic transmission at neuromuscular junctions in Drosophila melanogaster larvae,” which was published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Comparative Physiology A.

“I am so delighted that Elizabeth and Clara came back this year to continue their projects,” said Dr. Robin Cooper, a recipient of the Kentucky Academy of Science Award.

Other current Sayre students who have been invited to work in UK labs are sophomores Rollie Mills, Will Kimmerer and Sana Aslam, and junior Forrest Courtney.

Sana is working with Dr. Ann Morris on research funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Sana won the high school cash prize in April at UK’s Neuroscience Day.

“Everyone in my lab has been impressed with Sana’s enthusiasm, focus and her grasp of the scientific principles underlying our research,” Dr. Morris said.

“Sana is making great progress on her project, which I believe has the potential to contribute important new data for our field. I look forward to continuing our work with her.”

Elizabeth Schwarcz and Clara de Castro, who are working with Dr. Cooper, are not handed a broom and dustpan or asked to carry lab equipment around while others do science.

Clara, for instance, has been learning how to keep a fly heart alive after it has been removed from the insect.

Said Dr. Cooper: “It is a pleasure to have Sayre students working in the lab. Their presence and research are an integral part of the lab activities and research team atmosphere.”