Department of Biology students present at School of Arts and Sciences annual Symposium Series

Department of Biology students present at School of Arts and Sciences annual Symposium Series

The School of Arts and Sciences’ Annual Symposium Series continued with presentations by the Department of Biological Sciences on February 19, 2014.

Two graduate students, Kayla Allyne Echols and Cherrelle Gee presented their research work on mitochondria biogenesis done under the direction of Drs. Marta Piva and Jon Ignacio Moreno, both associate professors of biology.

“We are so impressed and proud of the depth of our students’ knowledge and the thoroughness of their cutting-edge research that continues the work of their outstanding mentors Moreno and Piva, who in 2009 discovered and published the first function of the CCM1 gene product from Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker yeast),” shared Dr. Babu Patlolla, interim dean of the School. “Curators of the Saccharomyces Genome Database at the Stanford University School of Medicine acknowledged the discovery and made the name CCM1 official as the Alcorn team proposed. The moonlighting nature of the CCM1 gene product was further discovered and published in 2012. Today, CCM1 is used as the central gene to study mitochondria biogenesis. We cherish this discovery and are happy to publicize it every chance we get.”

Kayla Allyne Echols’ presentation focused on the new results upon one PPR motif of the CCM1 gene product. Dr. Bettaiya Rajanna, department chair, proudly shared that she “was recently accepted to Penn State University’s plant biology Ph.D. program, the nation’s number one program in plant biology.”

Following the question and answer session, Cherrelle Gee presented her results upon regulation of CCM1 gene expression, a key issue to address fundamental questions regarding mitochondria biogenesis. Rajanna said, “Cherrelle is working on her acceptance to the MD/Ph.D. program at Penn State.”

At the end of the symposium, Moreno shared, “Both Kayla’s and Cherrelle’s presentations were fluently expressed and successfully expanded by several interesting inquiries from faculty.” Piva agreed with him and added, “Both girls showed a great deal of potential as professionals and are currently writing their master thesis.”