Students from Hamline, Century, and North Hennepin are invited to apply for a summer research position at Hamline University working with Hamline Faculty. Students will be expected to work ten weeks for 35 hours/week and will receive a stipend of $4000 for the summer. The funds available will support 5 students from each community college. Each community college student will be paired with a first or second year Hamline student on a research project. In addition to performing research, students will also be expected to attend biweekly informational sessions associated with the HHMI program.

Synthesis and Characterization of Semiconductor Particles, Professor Melissa Fierke, Chemistry  

The goal of this research is to enhance detection of trace amounts of analyte using Surface Enhanced Infrared Absorption Spectroscopy (SEIRAS), or Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). This portion of the project is the synthesis and characterization of semiconductor particles which will be used as the substrate for enhancement. Aluminum oxide and titanium oxide nanoparticles will be synthesized, with a special emphasis on controlling the size of the particles. The materials will be tested using infrared and Raman spectroscopies with a wide range of analytes.

Understanding the Genes that Control Colon Cancer Development  Professor Jodi Goldberg, Biology

I am trained as a cellular immunologist and have spent many years studying the function of immune cells in vitro and in vivo.  More recently, my attention has turned to employing the skills I learned as an immunologist to the study of human cancer.  Scientists are in the process of re-examining and revising the approaches used to treat cancers.  We are recognizing that no one therapy can cure all cancers, or even all of the same specific type of cancer.  Rather, we need to examine individual tumors and employ therapeutic strategies, called targeted therapy, to treat each person’s cancer.  For example, many women who have breast cancer express a gene amplification that leads to overexpression of the Her2 growth factor receptor.  For those women, the drug Herceptin which blocks Her2 receptor signaling, is an effective treatment option.  Therefore, is it vital to understand the genes controlling each form of cancer to assess which current therapies might be effective treatments and to guide the development of new cancer therapies.


To that end, my lab is collaborating with Dr. Timothy Starr at the University of Minnesota to understand the genes involved in the development of colon cancer.  Dr. Starr has identified potentially important colon cancer genes in mice and we are using molecular biology techniques (e.g shRNA gene knockdown or overexpression of genes) to assess whether the same genes are important to the unregulated growth of human cancer.  This will be accomplished by examining the function of the implicated genes in a panel of human colon cancer cell lines.  Through conducting research in my lab, students will not only gain a better understanding of the genetic basis of cancer, but will also become familiar with a variety of laboratory techniques, including cell culture, PCR, RNA isolation, cell transfection and flow cytometry.

Effects of fisheries management on the zooplankton community structure and water quality of

Square Lake, Professor Leif Hembre, Biology

I am an aquatic ecologist and am currently engaged in a study that is investigating the cause(s) of eutrophication of Square Lake (Washington County, MN). Square Lake has historically had the clearest water of any lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, but over the last 30 years its water quality has worsened considerably. One potential cause of this decline in water quality is that the lake has been stocked with rainbow trout by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) over the past 30 years. Rainbow trout eat invertebrates in lakes such as the crustacean zooplankton Daphnia pulicaria. Daphnia pulicaria are important components of the food webs of lakes because they graze on algae. As a result, when Daphnia pulicaria are abundant, algae biomass is usually low and water clarity is greater.

To evaluate whether predation by trout on Daphnia is a significant cause of the declining water quality in Square Lake the MDNR initiated a 3-year moratorium on trout stocking in 2013. Results from the 2013 sampling season showed that Daphnia pulicaria was significantly more abundant than in recent years when trout were stocked to the lake. 2014 is the second year of the 3-year moratorium on rainbow trout stocking, and students collaborating with me on this research will sample Square Lake with me twice a month and will process zooplankton samples and water samples in the laboratory. In addition to assisting with field work and laboratory analyses, each student will also develop an independent project within the framework of the larger project.

Mapping Genes Controlling Plant Development, Professor Irina Makarevitch, Biology

The question “what makes a plant look like a plant” has always fascinated me.  We developed a family of maize mutant lines defective in unknown developmental genes.  These lines show fascinating phenotypes from “no-stalk” very small plants to “spidery” plants with very narrow leaves that do not look like maize at all.

Surprisingly, in each of these lines, only one gene controls the trait.  We started preliminary mapping of these mutations and are working towards figuring out which particular gene is responsible for each of these traits.  Maize genome and other available genetic resources together with modern molecular and cell biology techniques allow for dissecting the exact mechanisms of the gene function.  If you would like to learn a lot about classical genetics and modern molecular biology techniques, please join our group!

Detection and Mapping of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in the Environment, Professor Presley

Martin, Biology  

Recent research using the Polymerase Chair Reaction to detect antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) has

shown that human activities can cause detectable changes in the level of ARGs over large areas of the

environment. For example, an increase in the concentration of ARGs in the Platt River in Colorado has

been reported in stretches of the river that are located near cities or large scale animal farming

operations. Since antibiotic resistance of microbial organisms is a growing health problem, it is important to understand the environmental distribution of ARGs, how long they are stable in the environment, and whether environmental ARGs are a significant source of medically relevant antibiotic resistance. Students working on this project will develop a series of Polymerase Chain Reaction probes that will amplify known ARGs, and use these probes to map the distribution of ARGs in the urban twin cities environment. They will also investigate whether the ARGs detected in the environment are associated with antibiotic resistant microbes, or are present as free DNA molecules in the environment.

Detection and Biochemical Characterization of ACC Deaminases; a Group of Enzymes Important for Biological Nitrogen Fixation Professor Betsy Martinez-Vaz, Biology

II am a microbial biochemist currently interested in studying enzymes that enhance plant-microbe interactions relevant to agriculture and food safety.  I am looking for students interested in learning about bacteria, plants and the proteins that mediate successful partnerships amongst these organisms.


Agriculture is dependent on biological nitrogen fixation mediated by the interaction between rhizobacteria and leguminous plants such as alfafa and soybeans. The symbiotic relationship between rhizobia and legumes requires of the function of many proteins; one is 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC)-deaminase. Bacteria containing ACC deaminase (ACCDs) enzymes are more effective in nodulation and nitrogen-fixation due to their ability to lower the concentration of ethylene and bypass the plant defense systems.  


This summer, research in my laboratory will focus on the characterization of ACCDs previously identified in a collection of Sinorhizobium strains. Students working on this project will evaluate and perform enzymatic assays to study the substrate specificity of three ACC deaminase proteins, AcdS1, AcdS2 and AcdS3; these enzymes have a range of 33 to 99% protein sequence homology compared to ACC deaminases of known function.  In addition, we will use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to study the diversity and distribution of ACC deaminase genes in agricultural soils in Minnesota. Join our group for a summer of fun research in molecular biology and biochemistry!

Characterization of Colorant Fading in Paint, Professor Deanna O’Donnell, Chemistry

There is chemistry in art?  Yes there is, because art is made of materials and materials are chemical.  But chemicals change over time due to exposure to light, humidity, temperature fluctuations, among other factors.  Paint composition is quite complex, composed of a binder, colorant(s), opacity agent(s), solvent and other additives. The colorant, either a dye or a pigment, can fade over time due to photodegradation. The lightfastness of a colorant, a measure of fading, can be influenced by other components in the paint. For instance common opacity agents used in paints include TiO2 and ZnO, both photocatalysts. The complex nature of paint can lead to multiple photodecay pathways or accelerated fading of the colorant. Dr. O’Donnell’s group aims to understand the decay kinetics of the colorant as a function of binder, TiO2 and/or ZnO.  Students working on this research project will learn basic chemical laboratory techniques (solution preparation, pH meter operation, etc.), extraction methods, and basic theory of spectroscopy.   Students will be trained on using certain instrumentation including the UV-vis absorption spectrometer, fourier-transform infrared spectrometer and the Raman microscope.

Investigating discrete resonance transitions in hanging chains, Professor Andy Rundquist, Physics

Most physical systems have a set of resonant frequencies. These frequencies correspond to modes of oscillation of the whole system that have large amplitudes. When a system is excited, if the excitation is near the resonant frequency, the system will typically respond with a large amplitude. Far from all resonances, the system will typically not respond. I want to study a simple system that has a set of clear resonance that break down when the excitation gets too large.


Consider a hanging beaded string. If you oscillate the top bead back and forth, there are certain frequencies which cause a large amplitude response. Often, you find that you can't keep the string isolated in one plane, and so your motion is more of a twirl than a oscillation. What I have found is that, if you can lock in one of the resonances, you can then increase the amplitude and the frequency, while maintaining the same simple shape of the system. When you do this, you're breaking the discrete resonances, as now many different frequencies will still work. Students will work with me to build and test an apparatus that can separately excite the beads in two different directions while studying the response of the system, and they will also use Mathematica to model the system. Some additional thoughts can be found here:

Chronic exercise and functional mobility: is exercising regularly the key to improved function in older age, and what type of exercise is best? Professor Lisa Stegall, Biology

Dr. Ferguson-Stegall directs the Integrative Physiology Laboratory in the Department of Biology at Hamline University. Her research focuses on physiological changes that occur as we age, and how to prevent or ameliorate physical decline through exercise. Specific areas of interest are the effects of exercise and dietary interventions on measures of physical function, metabolic health, and cardiorespiratory health, determining early indicators of frailty, and assessing functional mobility in active compared to sedentary older adults.