Undergraduate Researchers

Cell and Molecular Biology

Claire SchenkelClaire Schenkel is pursuing both a degree in Biology as well as one in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences through BU's Dual Degree Program.

In Dr. Kim McCall's lab, Claire is studying programmed cell death in the ovaries of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. She is seeking to clarify the relationship between the multiple cell types in the ovary. Her work explores how mutations expressed in certain ovarian cells can affect egg chamber development at a cellular level, as well as the fecundity of the adult fly itself.

Claire is a Beckman Scholar supported by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.


Beth CiminiBeth Cimini works in Professor William Eldred’s laboratory on signaling pathways involving the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the retina. She is a Beckman Scholar supported by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Boston University was one of only 14 institutions nationwide to receive Beckman Scholar funding in 2005.

Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution

Colin AverillColin Averill recenlty published a paper in the prestigious journal, Ecology, along with his advisor, Dr. Adrien Finzi. His research work focuses on the forms of nitrogen that control the productivity of hardwood and boreal forests--the kinds of forests you see as you hike in the mountains of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. Using a novel application of natural abundance N isotope analysis and isotope enrichment experiments his demonstrated an increasing dependence of forest trees on organic nitrogen sources with elevation. His work was honored at this year's Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, where he received the Outstanding Student Research in Ecology Award from ESA's student section. The importance of his work was also noted by the broader scientific community. This paper was reviewed in Faculty of 1000, Biology.

Spencer GoodmanSpencer Goodman is a senior working in Dr. John Finnerty's lab. He recently received a Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) grant and was named a CAS Summer Research Scholar. He is currently investigating gene expression in the parasitic lined sea anemone, Edwardsiella lineata. Principally, he preforms in situ hybridizations which generate a visual image of where a certain gene product (mRNA) is expressed in the animal. Since he uses animals from multiple life cycle stages such as parasites, planula, and adults, he can fully characterize a gene's spatiotemporal expression patterns. These data can then be used as a basis of comparison to the closely related free-living starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, hopefully illuminating some of the fundamental genetic strategies used in parasitism. Initial genes include Wnt2, SoxB2 and Forkhead which all show very defined and restricted expression the N. vectensis. This cross-species comparison is unusual because most parasites diverged from their free-living relatives much longer ago, therefore making meaningful comparisons significantly more difficult to draw. Fortunately, the two species of sea anemone are quite close relatives, which means whatever differences in gene expression I locate might prove to be extremely important in the evolution of parasitism as a life strategy.

Michelle McInnisMichelle McInnis, a senior Biology major working with Prof. Richard Primack, is investigating the effects of a warming climate on the flowering and leafing out times of plants. Her research at the Boston Area Climate
Experiment in Waltham, MA. shows that plants flower and leaf out about
1.3 day earlier for each 1 degree F increase in temperature. Michelle's research is sponsored by BU's Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Program (UROP).

Marine Biology

Curran Upplaluri

Curran Uppaluri is pursuing a dual major in both Biology and Economics and works with Dr. Peter Buston. He is currently investigating whether Amphiprion percula, a type of anemonefish, exhibit definite personality traits and whether a sustained difference in personality exists between the two sexes. In particular, he is studying three traits: (1) activity, or total distance travelled, (2) boldness, or time away from the anemone, and (3) social interaction, or number of male-female associations. A variation in personality traits between individuals would suggest that a diversity of personalities contribute to differing adaptations in response to social and ecological demands.

Curran has received grant funding for both the summer and fall semesters through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).