Student Spotlight: Rayann Atway

Rayann AtwayNo matter where you look at YSU, there are always STEM students making an impact on campus. Whether our students are taking part in organizations, sororities or fraternities, internships, or volunteer services, it is noticeable that each student is striving to be the best they can possibly be.

This year, Rayann Atway has stepped up to take on the role of YSU’s Student Government Association President. Rayann is a senior in the Biology, Pre-Med program and has accomplished several great things in her time at YSU. For the past two summers, she has interned at National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is a part of many organizations on campus, like YSU’s American Medical Student Organization (AMSA), Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED), and Student Government Association (SGA). She is also a member of the YSU Honors College where she actively participates in the Pen Pals Program.

Throughout the course of her years at YSU, Rayann has volunteered at several organizations like Akron Children’s Hospital and Northside Medical Center. She was also given the opportunity to work as a medical scribe at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital where she charted various types of information given by the physicians at the hospital. After she graduates this year, Rayann wants to attend medical school.

When she started at YSU, her interests in SGA also began. In her first year, she served as a freshman representative, taking actions to promote change at YSU. During the following two years, Rayann became the STEM representative and served as a parliamentarian on the executive board.

“I fell in love with SGA,” she said. “I absolutely love the things SGA does for YSU students and our community.”

This year, SGA will be tackling several projects. Some of these projects include the expansion of the food pantry, assistance in the community, the gathering of supplies for hurricane victims, textbook affordability, and improving voter registration rates on campus.

Students who are interested in joining SGA can attend their meetings every other Monday at 4:00pm. To find out more about SGA’s projects or how to get involved, contact Rayann Atway at ratway@student.ysu.edu.

Recent Publication: Biology Student, Faculty, and Staff

Thomas DR, Chadwell BA, Walker GR, Budde JE, Vandeberg JL, Butcher MT. “Ontogeny of myosin isoform expression and prehensile function in the tail of the gray short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica),” Journal of Applied Physiology, May 2017. DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00651.2016

Former YSU biology student Dylan Thomas authored this paper in collaboration with faculty and staff from YSU, Ohio University, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The paper was submitted in July 2016 and was accepted and published in May 2017 by the American Physiological Society.

Abstract:

Terrestrial opossums use their semi-prehensile tail for grasping nesting materials as opposed to arboreal maneuvering. We relate the development of this adaptive behavior with ontogenetic changes in myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform expression from 21 days to adulthood. Monodelphis domestica is expected to demonstrate a progressive ability to flex the distal tail up to age 7 months, when it should exhibit routine nest construction. We hypothesize that juvenile stages (3-7 months) will be characterized by retention of the neonatal isoform (MHC-Neo), along with predominant expression of fast MHC-2X and 2B, which will transition into greater MHC-1β and 2A isoform content as development progresses. This hypothesis was tested using Q-PCR to quantify and compare gene expression of each isoform to its protein content determined by gel electrophoresis and densitometry. These data were correlated with nesting activity in an age-matched sample of each age group studied. Shifts in regulation of MHC gene transcripts matched well with isoform expression. Notably, mRNA for MHC-Neo and 2B decrease, resulting in little-to-no isoform translation after age 7 months, whereas mRNA for MHC-1β and 2A increase, and this corresponds with subtle increases in content for these isoforms into late adulthood. Despite the tail remaining intrinsically fast-contracting, a critical growth period for isoform transition is observed between 7 and 13 months, correlating primarily with use of the tail during nesting activities. Functional transitions in MHC isoforms and fiber type properties may be associated with muscle ‘tuning’ repetitive nest remodeling tasks requiring sustained contractions of the caudal flexors.

Faculty Research: Dr. Caguiat

Dr. CaguiatDr. Jonathan Caguiat, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Youngstown State University, can trace his research on metal-resistant bacteria back to his time spent as a graduate student at Michigan State University.

He explained the history of the Y-12 plant in Oakridge, TN, and how toxic metals like uranium and mercury contaminated the soil and water there during World War II and the Cold War.

“My PhD advisor went down to Oakridge in 1989 and he dug up some soil samples right next to the plant and then a mile downstream,” said Dr. Caguiat. “So I work with bacteria that has been isolated from this creek. I look at different metal resistances.”

After his PhD advisor brought back the samples, Dr. Caguiat added a growth medium and spread the samples on plates. He froze the bacteria that grew to preserve them for later study.

“So we’ll expose them to different types of metal like mercury, maybe cadmium or zinc, looking for genes that are involved in [metal resistance],” said Dr. Caguiat. “We have isolated some bacterial metal resistance genes and can search for them in other bacterial strains.”

Some of the practical outcomes of this research are bioremediation—“cleaning up” in nature—and human medicine. Different metal resistances have different applications, and much of this is still being studied.

Dr. Caguiat earned his bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in molecular biology, and his PhD is in microbiology.

He uses his research as a valuable classroom tool to get students working hands-on and prepared for their own future research.

Recent Publications: Mark Womble

Introduction to Human Gross Anatomy: A Regional Guide, by Mark D. Womble (Van-Griner Publishing, Cincinnati, OH); 466 pages.
                   
This textbook is used for the YSU course Introduction to Human Gross Anatomy (BIOL 3705). This course primarily serves pre-medical, pre-physical therapy and other pre-professional students.