Sponsored by the Dr. Scholl Foundation, this award goes to a graduate student who has performed outstanding research as demonstrated by the submission/publication of a first author manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal.
Very little is known about the role of fatty acid metabolism in the context of oocyte physiology and meiotic maturation. Previously our lab has shown that inhibitors of fatty acid oxidation prevent meiotic resumption induced by pharmacological agents in vitro (Downs et al., 2009). In Valsangkar and Downs (2013), I demonstrated that an increase in fatty acid oxidation is required for, as well as accompanies hormone-induced meiotic maturation. Most importantly, I demonstrated that fatty acid oxidation is significantly increased in oocytes that were induced to resume meiosis in vivo, thus confirming the role of fatty acid oxidation under physiological conditions.
This award recognizes exceptional
academic achievement by a graduate student in the Ph.D. program. This award will
be based on grade point average (GPA), research activity and scholarly
Cassie will graduate in August with a cumulative GPA of 3.75. In her time at Marquette, Cassie has attended 6 scientific conferences, 4 of which she has presented posters with her graduate research. The first part of her graduate research was published early this year in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology and the second manuscript is currently under review. In her 5th year of graduate work, Cassie received the Arthur J. Schmitt Fellowship from the graduate school, an award based on a strong commitment to Christian ideals and leadership.
The big picture purpose of Cassie Nelson's dissertation work is to better understand the mechanisms of skeletal muscle fatigue. This is clinically relevant in situations such as respiratory or cardiac failure, where the mechanical machinery of the muscle no longer can functionally perform. A better understanding of what is happening in a single muscle cell can shed light on possible therapies for these diseases in the future.
An annual scholarship from the Dr. Catherine Grotelueschen Scholarship Fund for Biology is awarded to provide financial assistance toward the summer research of a graduate student.
Mitochondrial respiratory enzyme complexes are critical components of cellular energy production that require tight regulation to ensure optimal function. One form of this regulation is the organization of enzymes into large, super structures termed supercomplexes. Although it has been hypothesized that these higher-ordered complexes may facilitate a more efficient method of making cellular energy, the function of supercomplexes is unknown.
Mitochondria are fascinatingly dynamic cellular organelles, and changes within their internal microenvironment can serve as signals to either “speed up” or “slow down” energy production. However, the mechanisms involved in translating the “signal” into actual changes in the enzyme activity of supercomplexes remain unclear. I’m currently characterizing a protein called Respiratory supercomplex factor 1 (Rcf1) that associates with supercomplexes and is important for their correct assembly and function. My work over the summer, which is supported by the Catherine Grotelueschen Scholarship, will be focused on determining whether Rcf1 can regulate cellular energy production in response to changes within the mitochondrial microenvironment.
Four travel awards are awarded annually on a competitive basis to graduate students who present their work as first author at a scientific conference.
Mentor: Dr. Dale Noel
2014 FASEB Science Research Conferences Microbial Glycobiology
“Unorthodox synthesis of N-acetyl-D-quinovosamine coordinated with the initiation of O-antigen biosynthesis in Rhizobium etli CE3”
Mentor: Dr. Dale Noel
North American Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation Conference
Experimental Biology 2014, San Diego, CA
“Collective effects of low cell pH and inorganic phosphate on force, velocity, stiffness, and power in rat slow and fast muscle fibers”