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Westminster College Biology Students and Professor Publish and Present Collaborative Research

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Five Westminster College students and their professor Dr. Karen Resendes, Westminster assistant professor of biology, published and presented their research during the Fall Semester.

Resendes recently published "Human TREX2 Components PCID2 and Centrin 2, But Not ENY2, Have Distinct Functions in Protein Export and Co-Localize to the Centrosome" in the Experimental Cell Research journal. She is the corresponding author, and contributing authors include students Corey Cunningham, Casey Schmidt, and Nathaniel Schramm. The work is a culmination of four years of intensive research in the laboratory at Westminster. The results represent the first discovery of specific novel functions for PCID2 other than mRNA export and suggest that components of the TREX-2 complex serve alternative share roles in the regulation of nuclear transport and cell cycle progression.

Cunningham graduated in 2013 with a degree in molecular biology. He is currently enrolled in the Cell and Molecular Biology Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His current research focuses on investigating gene function by knocking out genes in C. elegans using RNA interference technology.

Schmidt graduated in 2012 with a degree in molecular biology. She is currently enrolled in the Genetics and Molecular Biology Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on the biogenesis of RNA splicing effectors in Dropsophila melanogaster.

Schramm, a junior molecular biology major, is a son of David and Christine Schramm of Cheswick and a graduate of Central Catholic High School.

Student P.J. Woods and Schramm also presented the collaborative research at the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB) annual meeting in December in New Orleans.

Woods, a senior molecular biology and history major, is a son of Paul and Patricia Woods of Cranberry Township and a graduate of Seneca Valley High School.

Also at the meeting, student Kevin Mroz presented "Online Exercises Do Not Improve Student Learning Over Traditional Introductory Biology Teaching Methods in a Small Liberal Arts Setting." Mroz studied the effectiveness of the hybrid method with class sizes of 24 students or less. The courses were designed to compare the hybrid and traditional methods with the same set of students by alternating styles by week. In addition to lecture and laboratory sessions, hybrid weeks included online quizzes based on textbook readings taken before the material was covered in class and online activities performed after the chapter was covered in class, designed to help reinforce content. Retention of information was measured by analyzing student improvement on questions between a pre-test and midterms or final exam. Results showed that in both courses the addition of online work had no significant effect on retention of information regardless of topic or question style.

Mroz, a senior biology major, is a son of Herbert and Rebecca Mroz of McDonald and a graduate of Fort Cherry High School.

Resendes was an invited speaker on the education panel "Foundational Cell Biology Workshop: Making Cell Biology Accessible by All." She spoke on her experiences using Internet resources in classroom assignments. Also as part of the session, Resendes helped to facilitate a roundtable discussion on the topic.

Resendes, who joined the faculty in 2009, earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. from Brown University.

Contact Resendes at 724-946-7211 or email for additional information about the research and the presentations.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top-tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 378 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.