Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research Teams

I am currently mentoring six students in three different research projects in the areas of Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology [and the Clinical Sciences] and Cancer Biology. Each project is headed by teams of student researchers. We meet to discuss our directions and results at least once a week in both instructional and round table discussions. Most of their work is on an independent basis after learning the basics.

The students often begin their research in their sophomore years and continue through their senior year. Many stay for the summer and participate in Elmira Colleges Summer Undergraduate Research Program. This is a 10 week campus supported program. Students are paid a stipend and their room and board. The experience is a GREAT way to prepare for graduate or professional schools.

Below is photomicrograph of the HeLa cells we work with in the lab. Look closely...Do you see the summer lab teams faces?

The Cell Culture Team

Ashley VanBrink. “Investigating the Effects of bee Venom on Hela Cell Proliferation and Structure.” [UMBC] 11 th Undergraduate Research Symposia, Fall 2008.

"For the past three years I have been working with Dr. Bezotte in cell culture; looking at the effects of honey bee venom on HeLa cancer cells, particularly looking for apoptotic events using gross observation, fluorescent microscopy and DNA gel electrophoresis. My work at Elmira College helped me to earn a REU position with OSU and NOAA where I used cell culture and molecular biology to observe the effects of PBDE-47 on Chinook salmon macrophage function, based on the macrophage's ability to ingest foreign particles. Currently I am finishing up my research with Dr. Bezotte, working on a paper from the REU and applying to graduate programs in cell and molecular biology to obtain my PhD." 

Ashley R. Van Brink 

Biology-Chemistry Major 
Elmira College, Elmira , N.Y. 
DOCHPF, GASP, President 
Future Mad Scientist

Poster Publication

Brittany Partridge'11 and Hanna Billings'11
are continuing with the cell research looking at the effects of natural chemicals on cancer cells. They are studying grape skin extracts [anti-oxidants] and its effects on cytoskeletal alterations.

The Molecular Group
Renaldo Neely'10 and Jen Davidson'11
are working on the Molecular project [utilizing the Bi-valve samples collected from the Bahamas]. Their research utilizes molecular techniques and genetic markers to evaluate the degree of genetic relationships between populations of species. Genetic diversity can be observed in many bivalve species. On the island of San Salvador, Bahamas, the bivalve Pinctata imbricate is often found growing on Mangrove roots in various saline environments. Previous studies of these mollusks questioned their relatedness to other species found on the island. The research investigates the genetic diversity of this population of mollusks. The students use DNA extraction, PCR and the LI-COR DNA analyzer to compare nucleotide sequences in their investigation of the genetic diversity.

This is an ongoing project that has been worked on by other groups of student researchers. Their research has been presented at the UMBC conference and other professional venues. Alison Gauthier'09 and Shanon Harmon '08 began the research and collected many of the specimens during termIII in the Bahamas.

Alex Pankratz'11 presented his research poster entitled: “ Molecular Genetic Analysis of the Populations of the Mangrove Bivalve Isognoman alatus in San Salvador, Bahamas” detailing the preliminary findings. Though the research has yielded variable results; we are continuing to pursue sequencing of the Cytochrome Oxidase genes.


Alison Rowell'11 is beginning a new project looking at bacterial populations on instruments used by the nursing students [we are collaborating with Dr. Denise Talenti, R.N. in the nursing Dept.]. Ali is asking the question; “What is the bacterial population on common nursing student instruments (such as the stereoscopes, name badges, and blood pressure cuffs).” She is sampling the surfaces and making preliminary identifications of the microbes found. Ali hopes to expand this research to investigate if the population [number and types] changes as the students perform their clinical rotations.

This research is of particular interest to Ali as she has been accepted into the Upstate Medical Early Decision Program at Syracuse University Medical College. She will enter into the MD program upon her graduation from Elmira. She hopes to present her research at the American Society of Microbiologists [ASM] general conference this spring in San Francisco.

Other Published Student Research Includes:

Anna Duffy. “An Investigation of the Chemung River for the Presence and Source of Escherichia coli.” University of Maryland BC campus [UMBC] 10 th Undergraduate Research Symposia Fall 2007.

Alison Gauthier and Shanon Harmon. “Genetic Diversity among the Mangrove bivalve Pinctata imbricata in San Salvador , Bahamas ” . [UMBC] 10 th Undergraduate Research Symposia Fall 2007.

Christi Anne Severson. Outdoor Classrooms: "Using a Stream Biosurvey as an Educational Tool" . UMBC 9 th Undergraduate Research Symposia. 2006.

Bryon Tuthill II. Effects of Apoptosis on Cellular Protein Matrixes . UMBC 9 th Undergraduate Research Symposia. 2006.