Research Highlight: Hannah Petty

by arowsey on April 12, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Hannah Petty concerning her research experience with Dr. Lassiter on examining the effects spironolactone has on the embryological development of zebrafish.

Can you describe what your research project is about?

For my research project, I look at the effects spironolactone has on the embryological development of zebrafish.  I use three different concentrations as well as a control to test what effects the chemical has on the heart rate, heart area (atrium & ventricle separately), blood vessel diameter, mortality (over 7 days), eye width, eye length, interocular distance, and head length of the fish.

What made you decide to pursue your topic?

When I was a freshman, I was new to Dr. Lassiter’s lab; therefore, I was pretty unaware of protocols and things of that nature.  One of the seniors at the time, Erin Kosmowski, was working on her senior project and needed help.  She taught me the necessary techniques to measure the effects of the chemical.  After she graduated, I continued with the project in an effort to have enough data to eventually publish.

Why did you decide to do research?

I am hoping to attend medical school after completing my undergraduate degree.  With that, I knew I needed to involve myself with every opportunity available.  When I was researching those opportunities offered at RC, I found information on “Research Fellows.”  I was really excited about the opportunity to conduct research for both course credit and pay in addition to the experience I would have gained after four years of undergraduate research.  So, between those three aforementioned benefits, I felt doing research would really help me on both an undergraduate and potentially graduate level.

How has your experience with your research advisor been?

My research experience with my advisor has been absolutely phenomenal.  Dr. Lassiter is an easy person with which to both work and talk.  Additionally, he is the king of spreadsheets and is more organized than you could ever imagine.  I am also a member of the swim team, so my research productivity during the season is very different than pre or post season; thankfully, Dr. Lassiter, is extremely tolerant of my weird schedule which makes it significantly easier to work in his lab.

What has been your favorite or most interesting part of your research project so far?

My favorite part of research thus far has been using the fluorescent scope underneath Massengill.  A couple of the lines of zebrafish we have are genetically modified to have parts of them glow under certain light.  For example, we have a line of fish who’s hearts glow green; we have a line of fish who’s jaws glow green; and we have a line of fish who’s blood vessels glow red underneath the fluorescent scope.  These fish, to the naked eye, appear to be perfectly normal; however, when they are put under the fluorescent scope, they are clearly unique.  I absolutely love watching their hearts beat and being able to differentiate between the atrium and the ventricle—I think it is so cool!

What would you say to current and incoming students interested in doing research?

If you’re an incoming freshman, do everything you can to involve yourself in what you love.  I have always had a passion for science, so I wanted to do research in the biology field.  It seems a little scary when the upperclassman are discussing some of the more advanced protocols, but I promise it is not as intimidating as it seems.  For both freshman and current students interested in research, don’t be afraid of scheduling conflicts!  My schedule has been extremely difficult to work with and around due to my athletic commitment, but professors are really understanding of students who want to really explore the opportunities RC has to offer.  Dr. Lassiter, for example, is both my research and academic advisor, so he deals with me all the time and knows the complexity of my schedule; however, he has never discouraged me from pursuing opportunities that interest me.  The encouragement provided by the faculty make everything ten times easier, as they want you to succeed just as badly as you do!  Also, as a last tip, always ask questions!  No one will judge you; the majority of the time, someone has the exact same question you do!

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Research Highlight: Stephanie Zemba

by arowsey on February 20, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Stephanie Zemba concerning her research experience with Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Mehrotra on examining interfaith dating relationships.

Can you describe what your research project is about?

Our research project examined interfaith dating relationships among college students, including students’ experiences, attitudes or views, expectations, and apprehensions. Drs. Kristi Hoffman and Meeta Mehrotra were the primary investigators, and they conducted five focus groups, which fell into two categories depending on whether students had interfaith experience (personally or through family/friends). Interfaith relationships were broadly defined to include faith-no faith and interdenominational relationships as well as a relationship between two individuals from different faith traditions.

I joined this project as a Research Fellow after the data was already collected, so I was primarily involved with analysis and helping to write up the results. Our article, called “Students’ Attitudes Towards Interfaith Relationships: The Impact of Parents, Religiosity, and Christian Privilege,” will be published in the Journal of College and Character this month. It discusses three main themes that arose from an analysis of the focus group data: the continued relevance of parents’ opinions about dating partners, the importance of religiosity in a religiously mixed relationship, and the role of Christian privilege in shaping attitudes towards potential dating partners who do not follow a Christian faith tradition.

What made you decide to pursue your topic?

I was interested in joining Drs. Hoffman and Mehrotra’s research team because my parents are in an interdenominational marriage. Several difficulties arose from these relatively minor religious differences in their relationship, most notably the negative reactions of my dad’s side of the family. Listening to my parents discuss their experiences sparked my interest in learning more about how religion shapes partner choice, relationships, and family life.

Why did you decide to do research?

My career goal is to become a professor of sociology and gaining research experience is very helpful as a prelude to a Ph.D. program. In addition to the practical benefits of learning the basics of research as an undergraduate, I enjoy the process of discovery that comes along with conducting a research project. Sociologists examine the social world, and I think that the best way to understand the multiple facets of a topic or issue is to ask people about it directly!

How has your experience with your research advisor been?

Drs. Hoffman and Mehrotra have both been wonderful advisors and mentors! I have enjoyed collaborating with them on several research projects, which has given me experience in all stages of the research process, from the design/planning phase to writing up results. Like all great mentors, they always see the potential in me and provide me with encouragement and support. Many of the opportunities that they encouraged me to apply for have really helped me develop as a person and as a scholar, including conference presentations, RC’s Summer Scholars, and the American Sociological Association’s Honors Program.

What has been your favorite or most interesting part of your research project so far?

My favorite part of this research project was the critical analysis we did when developing the Christian privilege theme. This was one of the major contributions of our paper, as few researchers examining interfaith relationships in the U.S. have considered the structural dominance of Christianity and how power inequalities between religious groups can influence openness towards interfaith relationships. In this section, we also discuss the need to encourage the development of religious literacy among college students, and the steps that higher education institutions can take to broaden students’ understanding of diverse religious groups.

What would you say to current and incoming students interested in doing research?

The first step to doing research is simply asking a professor about their interests and any research projects they are involved in or considering! While this may seem intimidating, it can lead to you becoming involved with a professor’s research project or developing an independent study with them. There are a lot of ways to do research, including as a volunteer, for course credit, or for pay. For current students, I would stress that it’s never too late to become involved in research!

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Research Highlight: Ryan Denholm

February 4, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Ryan Denholm concerning his experience participating in an independent study with Dr. Bañuelos Montes which focused on actions committed by the Guatemalan military during the Cold War. Can you describe what your research project is about? My research project is about atrocities committed by the Guatemalan military during […]

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Research Highlight: Lauren Powell

November 9, 2020

I had the opportunity to speak with Lauren Powell concerning her experience presenting research she conducted with Dr. Bucholz at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Annual Convention in New Orleans.  Can you describe what your research project is about? The most recent research Dr. Buchholz and I have conducted was a study about […]

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Research Highlight: Jamie Obremski

September 7, 2020

I had the opportunity to talk to recent RC grad Jamie Obremski about her research experience. She had the opportunity to present her research at the Southeast Decision Science Institute (February 2020). Why did you decide to do research? I am a part of the Honors Program here at RC and this research is a […]

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Research Highlight: Therese Weidenkopf

March 17, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak with Therese Weidenkopf concerning her research experience with Dr. Hughes concerning the development of a methodology for the synthesis of the semiconductor nanocrystal CIS. Can you describe what your research project is about? My research involves the development of a methodology for the synthesis of the semiconductor nanocrystal CIS. […]

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Research Highlight: Amber Gregory

October 12, 2020

I had the opportunity to talk to recent RC grad Amber Gregory about her research experience. She presented her research at the Southeast Decision Science Institute earlier this year (February 2020). We researched how Instagram affects one’s personal wellness, that being, anxiety, depression, tendency of eating disorders, and self-confidence. The members of our group picked […]

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Research Highlight: Savannah Faith Clark & Christian Sanchez

February 27, 2020

Savannah Faith Clark and Christian Sanchez are current juniors at Roanoke College. They had the opportunity to present their research at the Virginia Academy of Science Undergrad Meeting. I asked them questions to get an insight of their experience presenting and what conducting research at Roanoke College is like. Can you describe what your research project […]

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Research Highlight: Stephanie Zemba

February 20, 2020

I had the opportunity to talk to Stephanie Zemba a current junior at RC. Not only did she have the opportunity to conduct research in the summer, but she also presented her research at MARCUS (Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of Undergraduate Scholarship). I asked Stephanie a few questions to get her insight about what her experience […]

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Research Highlight: Dr. Sarisky, Caroline Hunter, Nicholas Plymale, & Kevin Smee

November 7, 2019

Some of our fellow RC Maroons were recently published in The PLOS Journal. Dr. Sarisky and 3 recent RC graduates, Caroline Hunter, Nicholas Plymale, and Kevin Smee published their paper “Experimental characterization of two archaea inosine 5′-monophosphate cyclohydrolases”. RC Research had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Sarisky and Caroline Hunter about this accomplishment and their […]

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