“Little Buddies,” Big Goals: An Evaluation of a Youth Mentoring Program

Hi Tribe! My name is Phoebe Flint and I’m so thrilled to be able to conduct research over the summer with the support of the Charles Center and my advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Raposa. I’m currently studying in Scotland, but I’m looking forward to coming back home to Williamsburg to get started on my project!

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Black Space: Mapping William and Mary’s Relationship with African Americans

During the Fall of 2016, I took a class that met in the Wren basement. I remember the way that I felt first entering that classroom- descending the stairs into the cool, dark space in which I would be learning. There was a sense of pride in knowing that I was learning in the very same building that the likes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington embodied. Halfway through the semester, though, I learned from a friend in the Spotswood program that my basement classroom was once a slave kitchen. I began to think of this space in a new way- as a site of exploitation, and a black space on our predominately white campus. As the semester went on, I began to think about the other black spaces on this campus- the places where African Americans learned and lived within this predominately white space, and the significance of these spaces within the context of the landscape that is Colonial Williamsburg. Furthermore, I started to think about ways that the story of African Americans at the College of William and Mary could be told through the spaces that African Americans have inhabited over the course of William and Mary’s three hundred year history. These spaces include the house of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, The Hugh Long Willis Library in the School of Education, and the Lemon and Hardy Halls. With my research project, Black Space, I aim to map out William and Mary’s relationship with the African American community from exploitation in the Wren Building memorialization in Lemon and Hardy halls. I plan to use the resources on campus in the Swem archives as well as other research on these spaces. What I hope to achieve in the end is a digital map of the black spaces on campus that also acts as an archive of the relationship that William and Mary has had with African Americans over the years.

Microsatellite Genotyping of Milkweed:

Milkweed and monarchs populations have been steadily declining due to habitat changes and a whole host of other factors for many years. Conservation efforts include adding more diversity to milkweed populations as lower diversity of milkweed is dangerous because it leads to more susceptibility for milkweed extinction. Analyzing the diversity of milkweed is imperative for replanting efforts and conservation goals of both the monarch and milkweed as milkweed is the most important plant for larval monarchs. My goal for this experiment is to evaluate patches of milkweed and quantify genetic diversity so as to help conservation efforts. I will sample and map the stems of common milkweed in five populations that have been sampled for the past four years to discover how diverse these populations are by using microsatellite markers.  Sampling will occur in 5 populations during the month of June, and the distance between the different plants, ramets, will be recorded on site. Once back in the lab, DNA extraction will occur using a specific protocol. After extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) will be done on the DNA to amplify sections of the DNA sequence using 8 primers developed for this specific species of milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. PCR is done using a MyTaq kit and a thermocline machine. The sections of the DNA amplified are microsatellites in this case. Microsatellites are repeated sections of DNA unique to each plant. However, because milkweed is very clonal, or makes clones of itself, many plants in a patch could be genetically identical, or having the same microsatellite sequence, which means there is very low genetic diversity. Once these sections are amplified, fragment analysis can occur so as to compare the length of microsatellites to evaluate the clonality of milkweed. Additionally with use of the ramet density data, the probability of any plants being related can hopefully be correlated to their distance.

Final Update

Hi everyone,

I had a lot of fun this summer doing research here and am glad to say that I will be continuing to work on the same project for the upcoming semester. I still have a lot of data to collect and many more qPCR reactions to run, but I’m glad to see how much progress I’ve made over the summer. It has put me in a good position to finish collecting the data and finish up my analysis hopefully by the end of the fall semester so that I can move on to a new project in the spring.

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1,5-Benzodiazepine Educational Synthesis – Conclusion

Good afternoon, everyone!

After nearly eight weeks of literature research and experimenting in the lab, I have finalized my initial procedure for the synthesis of 2,2,4-trimethyl-2,3-dihydro-1H-1,5-benzodiazepine using ortho-Phenlenediamine, an excess of acetone, and sulfamic acid catalyst.  I made several alterations to the skeletal procedure by Fletcher given to me by Prof. Lashley, including an increase in reaction time (from 30 minutes to 60 minutes), an increase in catalyst (from 10% molar to 20% molar), the use of reagent-grade acetone (instead of solvent-grade), the use of magnesium sulfate drying agent (instead of sodium sulfate drying agent), the use of a drying column to eliminate atmospheric water from entering the system, and limiting the extraction solvent to 30 mL of DCM (instead of 50 mL).  With these changes, the reaction yields more pure product, in a timely fashion.

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