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 research.

I’m an enzymologist, which means I study enzymes.  With the explosion in the number of sequenced genomes, we have a tremendous amount of genome-level data, but far less experimental characterization.  So we have literally millions upon millions of apparent genes, whose enzymes have been labeled by a computer (sometimes vaguely) about what they might do, but very few have been actually characterized at the protein level. In this paper, my students and I looked at a couple of enzymes called “inosine 5′-monophosphate cyclohydrolases” from two species of archaea.  These enzymes had never been characterized before, and their gene assignments were based on pretty distant relationships.  These enzymes are interesting because they close up the second ring needed to make purines (those are the As and Gs of DNA), and because they’re from organisms that live at very high temperatures.  One of the two enzymes ended up being most active at 80 degrees C (which was as high as we could measure).  That was pretty interesting, since lots of proteins are unfolded (and non functional) at that temperature. 

—Dr. Sarisky

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Roanoke College, from the fantastic classes, to professors, to the extra-curricular activities; however, none of these were comparable to my research experience in Dr. Sarisky’s lab. From the first day I stepped into her lab to do my summer research project, I fell in love with research and my life wasn’t the same. I planned on going to medical school after graduation, but after doing research, trying to answer a question no one has before, I realized that this was my passion. Not only was our research project “Experimental characterization of two archaeal inosine 5′-monophosphate cyclohydrolases” fascinating to me, but it also gave me invaluable cognitive and laboratory skills that set me apart from other applicants when applying to graduate school as well as provided me with a strong foundation for my own PhD research project at Marshall University School of Medicine. I am forever grateful for the experience I had at RC, especially doing research with Dr. Sarisky, and am thrilled that our research was published for others to see. For the students who aren’t sure if they want to do research, my advice is try it, you never know how it will turn out.

—Caroline Hunter

Here is the link to their research if you would like to check it out. Congratulations to our fellow maroons!!!

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0223983

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Research Highlight: Dr. Johann, Casey Cooper, Matt Bryant, & Naomi Hogan

October 5, 2019

Some of our fellow RC Maroons were recently published in The Protein Journal. Dr. Johann and 3 students, Casey Cooper (Wojtera while at RC), Matt Bryant, and Naomi Hogan, published their paper “Investigations of Amino Acids in the 5-Formyltetrahydrofolate Binding Site of 5,10-Methenyltetrahydrofolate Synthetase from Mycoplasma pneumonia”. RC Research had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Johann […]

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Research Highlight: Erin McDonnell

September 27, 2019

Recent graduate Erin McDonnell had the opportunity to present at SDB conference with Dr. Lassiter. I had the opportunity to interview her and get her take on her conference experience. Can you describe what your research project is about? At its core, my research project centered around ideas of Behavioral Neuroscience and Toxicology. My experiment […]

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Summer Scholar Research Highlights

September 12, 2019

Stephanie Zemba ’21 Major: Sociology Title:Social Isolation Among Aging Immigrants Abstract: Health consequences of social isolation are well-documented. Older immigrants are particularly vulnerable to social isolation due to the stresses associated with aging in a foreign country. The projected increase in foreign-born elders makes social isolation an important phenomenon to study. The proposed research will […]

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Summer Scholar Research Highlights

September 10, 2019

Dylan Sullivan ’20 Major: Chemistry Title: Development of a Low-Cost Fluorescence Spectrometer Abstract: The technique of fluorescence spectroscopy utilizes light to determine unknown concentrations of molecules. The actual instrument used, a fluorimeter, costs over $30,000 so most students lack access to learn about and use this technique. In this research, I propose to develop a fully-functional […]

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Summer Scholar Research Highlights

September 6, 2019

Andrew Droubay ‘20 Major: Computer Science & Mathematics Title: Pointer Visualization and Education in C++ Through Gamification Abstract:The syntactic and theoretical use of pointers within computer programming is often a difficult obstacle to intermediate students. Solutions involving visualizations and practice problems have been used before, but a better result may be obtained through gamifying the problem. […]

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RC Showcase of Research & Creativity

September 5, 2019

On April 5th, approximately 40 RC students had the opportunity to present their work at the Roanoke College Showcase of Research and Creativity.  Top awards went to . . . First Place: Katie Hefele –– Cardiac function in the American lobster: How does pericardial sinus pressure relate to pressure inside the heart?  Dr. Dar Jorgensen, Biology […]

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Summer Scholar Research Highlights

September 2, 2019

Jared Boone ’20 Major: Political Science & French Title: Power Structures and Political Tradition: An Explanation for the Disparate Healthcare Outcomes Between the United States and France Abstract: The United States and France have distinctly different healthcare systems and these differences are shown in nearly every measure. It is unique that two western Republics with very similar systems of governance, […]

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Summer Scholar Research Highlights

August 29, 2019

Isabel Hildesheim ‘20 Major: Biology Title: Using Bryophytes for Stronger Quantification of the Effects of Air Pollution in Habitat Abstract: This project will work to develop a method for using mosses to quantitatively assess air pollution. Moss will be fumigated with SO2 in the lab. The morphology, physiology, and cytology of these mosses will be observed, and polar […]

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Western Virginia Regional Science Fair

July 24, 2019

In March, Roanoke College hosted the Western Virginia Regional Science Fair in Bast Gym. Nearly 170 high school and middle school students were able to showcase their talents and intellect at the fair.

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