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Seniors Received Drinko Grants for Joint Project

Posted on Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Westminster College seniors Caroline Lawhead, Katelyn McGinty, and Brittany Reynolds received undergraduate research grants from Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

All three students are conducting their research on an Ambystoma mexicanum, also known as an axolotl or Mexican salamander, an organism that has the ability to regrow limbs, jaws, spinal column, and tail after a loss.  The nature of the research allows them to use the same organisms to examine the effects of vitamin C on different aspects of the limb regeneration.

The projects are conducted under the supervision of Dr. Joshua Corrette-Bennett, associate professor and chair of Westminster's Department of Biology.

Lawhead's project is "The Effect of Ascorbic Acid on Expression of HoxA13 mRNA in Ambystoma mexicanum during Limb Regeneration."

Reynolds' project is "The Effects of Ascorbic Acid on Msx-2 Expression in Limb Regeneration of Ambystoma mexicanum."

Both students are studying the possible effects of vitamin C on gene expression during the beginning stages of axolotl limb regeneration, but each student is analyzing the expression pattern of a different gene.

Lawhead, a molecular biology major, is a daughter of Guy and Lauren Lawhead of Sewickley and a graduate of North Allegheny High School.

Reynolds, a biology major, is a daughter of Mark and Donna Jo Reynolds of Fairlawn, Ohio, and a graduate of Copley High School.

McGinty's research is "The Effects of Ascorbic Acid on the Rate of Ambystoma mexicanum Limb Regeneration."

Her capstone project examines the rate of regrowth between axolotls who have been injected with two different concentrations of vitamin C and a control group to see which group's limbs grew back the fastest.

McGinty, a biology major, is a daughter of David and Lisa McGinty of West Mifflin and a graduate of West Mifflin Area High School.

Contact Corrette-Bennett at (724) 946-7208 or email for additional information. 

The Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education.  The Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences.  Click here for more information about the Drinko Center and its programs.