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2011-2012 Honors Student
Name: Timothy Layng ’12
Honors in: Biology
Hometown: Canton, Pa.
Title of project: Location mapping of bang senseless, a bang-sensitive gene on the X chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster.
Project advisor: Dr. Christopher Jones
Abstract or brief description: My advisor had some preliminary research data that suggested the location of bss did not coincide with the location proposed in a paper published in 2010. This formed the rationale for my project, as we sought to replicate the experiment to come to a conclusion on the approximate location of bang senseless. To accomplish this, I used three types of mapping techniques including deletion mapping, duplication mapping, and mapping via P-element recombination. In duplication and deletion mapping, we used a recessive trait exhibited by flies with the bss mutation and the principles of dominant and recessive phenotypes to narrow down the locus of bss. This method examines large chunks of replicated or deleted parts of the chromosome to determine if the gene is within those regions. Recombination mapping is finer tuned, focusing on events of crossing over, when the X chromosomes align and swap genetic information to determine a relative location of a gene. Certain recombined phenotypes will inform us if the inserted P-element is to the left or right of the bss gene, further narrowing down its location.
How did you get interested in your topic? Genetics has always been the most interesting portion of biology to me, and when the opportunity was presented to further explore the fundamentals of genetics through Honors, I was very eager to pursue it. I have worked with Drosophila in earlier coursework and found it easy to understand how genes can be followed through generations and how this data could be analyzed, so when Dr. Jones informed me about the project, I felt that it was something I could understand and excel at.
Do you intend to research your topic further? If so, how? Although I may participate in more research at some point in the next few years, I do not have any intention of continuing research dealing specifically with Drosophila and bang-sensitive mutations.
How did you benefit academically by conducting research/participating in honors? Participating in honors has helped me gain a greater sense of the work ethic that is required to do independent research. In addition, I’ve gained skills in time management as well as the ability to identify a problem with my research and systematically deduce where error may have been introduced. There is always the possibility of seeing results that you don’t expect when performing research, and working through those types of problems has provided me with skills that will be applicable in my life down the road.
How has the department (or faculty advisor) prepared you for the future? The biology department has helped me every step of the way thus far, and I am very grateful for that. Not only did they provide the facilities for this project to take place, faculty were there to guide me through the process, and help work out any problems that I encountered along the way. These critical problem solving skills are integral in a multitude of career fields, and are directly applicable to the healthcare field, which is what I am interested in most.
What advice do you have for other students interested in Honors? For those thinking about pursuing Honors, my biggest piece of advice would be to do it in a field you are really interested in studying. Honors candidates will spend hours and hours researching and working hard on their project, and it should be something that you will be proud to have completed at the end. Also, start writing early!
My future plans: I will be starting medical school at the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, affiliated with Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Virginia this fall. VCOM has great opportunities in emergency and sports medicine, two fields that I currently have a strong interest in pursuing.