Research Fellows Spotlight: Hallie Manchester

by Marcus Stewart on December 1, 2017

The Research Fellow program is one of the many opportunities presented to incoming students who are interested in getting involved in research. Students work with a faculty mentor in any subject that they are interested in and create a research project. After they finish or complete a substantial part of their research, students present their projects at conferences both on and off campus.

One of the students involved in Research Fellows is Hallie Manchester. Hallie, ’20, joined the program last year and has worked with her research advisor, Dr. Jorgensen, on their project about the American lobster.

“I inject the lobster with Vibrio bacteria containing a gene to glow called GFP. We then study the ratio of bacteria to hemocytes, or lobster blood cells. What we have been finding is a predictable curve of bacterial clearance vs hemocytes present. The hemocytes clump around the bacteria and bring it out of the body as the method of clearance. I will soon start on a project to investigate if the lobsters have an immune memory; if we inject the same bacteria later, will it affect how fast they can clear it from their system? We are also doing qPCR to determine how much live bacteria is in the tissues of the animal when the experiment is over”.

Hallie decided to apply for to the Research Fellows program after taking a science class called biotechnology in high school.

“I knew from then that I at least wanted to try research in college. When I applied to Roanoke, a huge factor to my decision to come here was my acceptance to the fellows. I wanted to work closely with a professor and discover something new. Since entering the fellows I have expanded my ability to do research on paper but also in the lab, not to mention I get paid”.

Hallie has really enjoyed working with her research advisor.

“Dr. Jorgensen has become a big part of my life. He takes us out for lab lunches and helps me network with fellow researchers and people in health professions. During my first freshman semester, I went to dinner with a visiting Virginia Tech Professor and was able to make connections, it was a major highlight! But Doc entrusts me with a lot of responsibilities with experiments and animal husbandry. It’s a really awesome experience to have a professor trust you with their lab and the other students you work with”.

Hallie’s most exciting part of her research so far was doing her first bacterial challenge by herself.

“I had been practicing on old animals and had been doing prep work helping an older peer. Then I got to do a whole experiment by myself. I had to do my own injections, plates, count my own hemocytes, and prep my own animal and reagents. It was crazy to know I was in charge of my own experiment and I could make a discovery”.

Hallie’s biggest goal from undergoing the Research Fellows is to be published in a scientific journal as a coauthor

“As an undergraduate this is a huge project to undertake and to be published would be a giant honor. However, some more realistic goals are to go to national conferences on undergraduate research and make a difference in the lobster fishing industry. Coming from Rhode Island, I have noticed the decline in the fishing industry and my research may make a difference in how we fish for crustaceans, like lobsters.

To anyone considering doing research, Hallie says,

“Being in the fellows has shown me that research is not limited to science. There are awesome projects going on in all the departments! Follow your passion and find out what is going on around campus. Don’t be afraid to approach a professor about their project, you never know if they have a position open. If you have passion, you can figure something out. Also, once you get started, you do a lot of grunt work. Keep working and eventually you will get to do something cool. Just stick it out until you do your part as a newbie. Balancing research, school, sports and social life can seem a bit daunting, but with time management it is possible”.

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