My project in a nut shell

My research project focuses on the mutation rate of the poly-C region of the genome of Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium commonly known to cause stomach ulcers, gastritis, and stomach cancer. The project’s aim is to address the question of whether or not the high mutation rate of the poly-C region of the genome is unique to H. pylori. This poly-C region is within the arsS gene that encodes a sensory kinase, which is apart of a two-component signal transduction pathway that allows the bacterium to adapt to changing environment conditions. My research professor and I have hypothesized that H. pylori has a uniquely high mutation rate of this poly-C region because it has a relatively small genome and is restricted ecologically to the gastric mucosa, and thus relies more heavily on phase variation to enhance genetic diversity. On the contrary, E. coli has a larger genome and devotes more energy to the use of transcription factors to increase genetic diversity. My project is centered on comparing the mutation rate of the poly-C region within these two bacterial species. The experimental procedure consists of a colony counting procedure and a procedure that analyzes the different poly-C lengths within bacterial populations using an automated sequencer.

Hello Blog World

Hi there, and welcome to my blog! My name is Blakely Mulder and I am an upcoming junior working toward a major in psychology and minor in religious studies. This summer, I was one of the lucky recipients of the Chappell Fellowship, which is given to support students working closely with faculty members on research projects. I am so excited about this opportunity to do research with my advisor, Professor Dickter, and her colleague, Professor Forestell, because I know I’m going to learn a lot of helpful research skills and we’re all going to find out some interesting things about social psychology.

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A Study of Historic Pigments

Hello Everyone!

My name is Hannah Mayhew and I am a rising junior pursuing a chemistry major and an art history minor at the College of William and Mary.  I have been given the incredible opportunity of engaging in summer research in the Chemistry Department through the aid of a Chappell Fellowship and will be spending the next few months working under Professor Wustholz in her lab.  My goal for the summer is to apply surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to samples from colonial oil paintings as an analytical technique to identify the presence of yellow lake dyes and other organic colorants.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have discovered Professor Wustholz’s research project, as I have always found the field of art conservation particularly fascinating.  This project allows me to advance my involvement in the field of analytical chemistry while working directly with pieces of art.

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Sodium-22 Variability in Precipitation


My name is Nancy Lauer and I am a junior at William and Mary majoring in environmental geology and environmental science.  I am extremely excited to be working with Professor Jim Kaste on my particular research project this summer and next school year.

I will be looking at the concentrations of the low level cosmogenic radionuclide, sodium-22, in precipitation.  Why would anybody ever care about sodium-22?  We believe that sodium-22 has the potential to date young fresh waters using isotopic dating methods.   If you have heard of carbon-14 dating…it’s the same idea.  Carbon-14 dating using the known half life of carbon-14 (5730 years) in order to determine the age of organic matter.  The issue with carbon-14 and other isotopes used for isotopic dating is that they have relatively long half lives and so they are useless for dating young fresh waters.  Sodium-22 on the other hand has a half life of 2.6 years and is produced consistently in the earth’s atmosphere, reaching the earth’s surface as fallout in rain and snow.  Currently, very little research has been done about the fallout rates of sodium-22, and this specific project has never been carried out in North America.  However, by analyzing the consistency of sodium-22 fallout rates by measuring sodium-22 in precipitation samples, we can assess the potential of sodium-22 as an indicator of the residence time of young fresh waters.

Currently, we really have no easy means of dating young fresh waters…however, it is extremely important.  Being able to calculate the residence time of a freshwater allows us to determine how quickly water in a given area is recharged and how quickly contaminants move through the water system.  A key example of this can be seen from what happened in Woburn, Massachusetts in the 1970s.  A leukemia cluster appeared in the area due to contaminated well water.  The industries Beatrice Foods and W.R. Grace were brought to trial and accused of contaminating the groundwater in the area.  However, without being able to measure the recharge rate of the groundwater system, it was difficult to prove in court that the contamination in the wells would have come from these industries during their operating lifetime.

I began collecting rain samples in January, and after a very dry March, I am thankful for a few rain showers.   I am looking forward to being able to share my experience with you all.  Stay tuned!

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Economic Development in Post-Conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina

Hello, my name is Sean Norris and I am a rising senior at the College of William & Mary.  I’m honored to have received a Charles Center Summer Scholarship.  I am a double major in International Relations and Economics. I would like to thank Professor Paula Pickering for helping me throughout the application process and inspiring me to do this research.  I would also like to thank the Charles Center staff for their help. My project is a study into the regional variation of economic development in post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH). I theorize that varying growth patterns are due to the levels of regional institutional strength.

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