Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2023
Meet Lyddia Rougeux ’25, one of 10 students selected for a 2023 Summer Research Fellowship. Lyddia, a junior molecular biology major and music minor, is from Pittsfield, Pa. She and her faculty mentor, Dr. Joshua Corrette-Bennett, associate professor of biology, spent their summer months working on the project “Effects of siHybrids on Quorum-sensing Involved in Biofilm Production.” Outside of the classroom, Lyddia is an accomplished saxophonist and performs with the Westminster College Marching Band, Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band. She is a member of the music honors fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.
Why did you apply for the Summer Research Fellowship?
I applied for the Summer Research Fellowship to gain research experience and to build my confidence in a laboratory setting before pursuing graduate/ medical studies.
Can you briefly describe your research project?
The primary focus of my research project was to determine whether siHybrids can suppress gene expression of specific genes involved in biofilm formation of Staphylococcus aureus. We predicted that the siHybrids will competitively bind to a specific quorum-sensing receptor involved in biofilm formation, preventing regulatory molecules from binding to the receptor, thus leading to the repression of target gene expression, and in turn a decrease in biofilm production.
What is your favorite part about research?
My favorite part of research has been being able to work on my own independent research project alongside Dr. Corrette-Bennett. This opportunity has allowed me to expand my confidence and understanding of laboratory techniques outside of a classroom setting. I have been able to focus on a project that is specific to my own interests, not one formulated for me in the classroom.
As you mentioned, you collaborated with Dr. Joshua Corrette-Bennett. How was that experience and what kind of insight did he offer in your research?
Dr. Corrette-Bennett was an amazing mentor! He was in the lab with me five days a week, ready to answer any questions or help me with any troubles I had. He helped me set up numerous experiments and made sure that I always had the proper materials in order for my project to be successful. Most importantly he made sure that I had a strong understanding of every underlying mechanism, calculation or seemingly minute detail that was involved in my study, to help me be successful.
How has your work as a student researcher shaped your student and future career success?
My work as a student researcher has opened my eyes as to what I want to do in my future career. I have grown to love working in the lab and plan to do so in the future, whether that be in a medical or teaching setting.
What’s been your favorite thing about Westminster?
My favorite part of Westminster is the sense of community I have found on campus. Whether that be in organizations I am involved in or just my group of friends, I know that I always have someone there for me.
What are your future plans?
Post-Westminster, I plan to either attend medical school with an end goal of becoming a pathologist, or attend graduate school and receive my Ph.D. in molecular biology with an end goal of becoming a college professor and pursuing research.
To learn more about Westminster’s molecular biology major, visit www.westminster.edu/molecularbiology.
Sponsored by the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, Summer Research Fellowships at Westminster College allow students to conduct hands-on research and creative projects under the guidance of our experienced faculty mentors.