S. Paradoxus (a species of yeast) in North America can be divided into two populations, one that is descended from European populations and one that is native to North America; these yeast mate much more within their populations than outside of them, which is evidence of one species forming two (an exciting development, as it is the first time such an event has been recorded among microorganisms). I am investigating one potential mechanism behind this differential mating by switching the agglutanin genes (which code for proteins that bind the yeast together during mating) between the different populations of yeast and running mate choice trials, in order to determine if it is differences in agglutanin genes that allow yeast to choose their mates.
I am incredibly grateful for the Honors Fellowship, as it has allowed me to perform full time research over the summer. Without this Fellowship, I would either have to research and work a part time job in Williamsburg, taking valuable time away from my research, or I wouldn’t be able to do summer research at all. Yeast genome sequencing and mating trials are very time consuming, and the summer research time that the Honors Fellowship is allowing me to have is instrumental in completing my honors thesis on time.
Hometown: Centreville, VA
Future Plans: After graduation, I hope to attend medical school and eventually become a physician.
Hobbies: In addition to my biology research and my work in the International Relations Club, I also volunteer at and shadow at various hospitals: I am a volunteer in the med/surg ward at Riverside Doctors Hospital in Williamsburg, I am a volunteer at pharmacy and reception at Gloucester Matthews care clinic, and I regularly shadow physicians at Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital in northern Virginia.
Fun Fact: I am, in addition to my biology major, also a philosophy major!
Follow Brent’s research on the W&M Honors Fellowships blog!