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​Westminster College Alumna Receives McClung Award for Outstanding Paper in Biology

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Posted on Monday, June 16, 2014

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Kaylynn Coates, a Westminster College alumna who received her degree in biology in May 2012, was selected for the McClung Award for Most Outstanding Paper for her publication that was featured in a 2013 edition of BIOS, a quarterly biology journal and the journal of the Beta Beta Beta Biological Society.

Coates' paper "Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptors are Required for Nestmate-Odor Memory Retrieval but not for Olfaction in Harvester Ants" discusses how the ability of social insects to distinguish between nestmates and non-nestmates is odor-based, learned and critical to the survival of the colony. The aim of the study was to further investigate the role of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in nestmate recognition in harvester ants. 

The paper was a report of Coates' capstone project which was supervised by her co-author, Dr. Katherine Robertson. At Westminster, the final component of liberal studies is a senior study, or capstone, course.  The capstone is a four-semester-hour (minimum) course within the major designed to provide an opportunity for students to evaluate and assess the strengths and limitations of their major field. The capstone experience permits opportunity for structured reflection on the value of education in and beyond the major and provides an opportunity to strengthen communication and problem-solving skills.

The McClung Award is offered by Beta Beta Beta for the most outstanding paper published in BIOS each year. All papers published in BIOS are automatically reviewed by the McClung Committee which announces the Award in January of each year. Beta Beta Beta, also known as Tri-Beta, is a national biology honor society with more than 200,000 members and nearly 700 chapters throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

Coates is a daughter of Gary and Sally Coates of Greenville and a graduate of Reynolds High School. She will begin studying for her Ph.D. in August 2014 at West Virginia University.

Robertson, associate professor of biology, joined the Westminster faculty in 2005, earned an undergraduate degree from Paddington College, UK, and master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of London.

Contact Robertson at 724-946-7213 or email for additional information.