University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Biology

Honors and Awards

2016 Undergraduate Awards

Each year the Department of Biology recognizes and awards undergraduates who have made outstanding contributions to research in Biology. Congratulations!

Erin Keller

George Perkins Marsh Award in Ecology/Evolution

Erin has been interested in ecological parasitology since she took a biology course with Dr. Joseph Schall her freshman year. She has worked in an ecological parasitology lab and has written her honor's thesis on the life history of a parasite and the genetic diversity of its earthworm host. After she graduates, she intends to go to graduate school to receive her PhD specializing in ecological parasitology. In the future, she would like to become a professor of biology and continue her research on the ecology and evolution of parasites, preferably with a concentration on how the ecology and life history of parasites are changing in response to climate change.

Laura Hoyt

Joan M. Herbers Award in Biology

Laura is currently working in the lab of Dr. Matthew Poynter as a lab technician. The lab received a grant from the University of Vermont to develop even better inhibitors of the NLRP3 inflammasome that could potentially be explored as treatments for diseases associated with over-activation. She is also researching the consequences of chronic alcohol treatment on the inflammasome, and compounds which could be used to treat alcoholism associated immune suppression and de-regulation. Through her work in Dr. Poynter's lab, she has become captivated with the field of immunology. Her hope is to be accepted into an MD/PhD program for entry in 2018 and would like to combine her love of caring for patients directly with biomedical research. In addition, she would like to combine her research interests in immunology with clinical practice in fields like oncology, allergy, or rheumatology.

David Polson

Paul A. Moody Award in Biology

In the Dr. Kalev Freeman laboratory, David has been given the opportunity to explore the effects of traumatic brain injury on the biomarker, oxidation reduction potential (ORP). ORP is an aggregate measurement of oxidative stress as measured by a novel diagnostic platform that he has been working on to evaluate and optimize. In addition to this, he has been involved in assessing physiological responses of cannulated rat and mouse mesenteric arteries when exposed to different pharmacological agents. David plans to enroll in pharmacy school where he will pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

Nathan Gasek

Kurt Milton Pickett Award
Nathan has written a research manuscript that is currently under review in Biology titled: "The Contributions of the Amino and Carboxy Terminal Domains of Flightin to the Biomechanical Properties of Drosophila Flight Muscle Thick Filaments". He studies how muscle structure and function are tuned by proteins that bind muscle myosin. Specifically, he has used the Drosophila model system to investigate the myosin associated protein flightin and its role in dictating the demanding biomechanics accrued by insect flight muscles. He hopes to use the skills and insights that he gained in Dr. Jim Vigoreaux's Laboratory as he applies for MD/PhD programs over the coming year.

Michael Gomella

Bernd Heinrich Award in Physiology or Evolution

Doing research that revolves around taste has given Michael a unique appreciation of the human mouth. "The complexity of our oral system is often overlooked in everyday life, but upon closer inspection, you begin to realize how important our mouths really are in making us human. This sort of revelation has led me to pursue a career in dentistry." Michael is planning to participate in the National Institutes of Health IRTA program next year, which is a program that gives pre-professional students the chance to work in a NIH lab for a year before ultimately going on to higher education. This, along with the three years of research he has had with Dr. Eugene Delay, will give him the experience that he needs to become an academic dentist. This will allow him not only to be involved with taking care of patients, but also conducting research which will advance the field of dentistry.

Last modified May 25 2016 03:34 PM