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Southeast Regional Node
Meeting

The GEP’s Southeast Regional Node held its Spring 2021 Regional Node Meeting on Friday, April 23, with over 60 in attendance, including students and faculty from constituent states Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. The keynote speaker Whitley Kelley, MS, Certified Genetic Counselor at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, AL, provided a fascinating overview of how genomics can be practically applied in careers in genetic counseling (see recording below). Faculty were inspired by the talk to include similar professional development training for students at their own institutions.

Following the keynote address, virtual breakout rooms offered a platform to undergraduate and graduate students to present 5-minute poster sessions on their GEP research projects. Again, faculty response was extremely positive; one professor commented, “Seeing the student presentations with the RNA-Seq provided even more weight to the benefits of the GEP Gene Annotation Curriculum in providing hands-on experiences with multiple data-sets and the feasibility of implementing this curriculum with other scientific questions.”

The two-hour online event served as a brief yet effective forum where students and faculty alike were empowered and motivated to continue active engagement in genomic research.

GEP Student Wins 1st Place at Research Conference

The University of Alabama’s 14th annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference (URCA) was held on March 31, 2021. 

Six GEP students (mentored by Dr. Laura Reed) presented at URCA 2021 one of which, Samantha Hoffman, won 1st place in her division. 

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Analyzing the evolutionary rate of wrd in connection to its position in the insulin signaling pathway

Abstract: The insulin signaling pathway is a metabolic pathway involved in glucose regulation and has been linked to cell growth, fat and protein metabolism, and disease. Insulin and its pathways can lead to Type II Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and cancers in humans, which are some of the most common and fatal diseases in the United States. Since this pathway is well conserved across phyla, we are using Drosophila melanogaster to analyze the rate of evolution in the gene wrd, a negative regulator of the insulin receptor and TORC1 signaling pathways. The goal of this study is to use gene annotation to compare wrd across six different species of Drosophila and analyze the evolutionary differences and conservation patterns of this negative regulator.