Mechanisms of Vesicle Recycling and the Kinetics within Neurons
Mentor: Dr. Robin Cooper
Stephanie's Beckman research proposal can be found at the bottom of the page.
Upon completion of her Biology degree at the University of Kentucky, Stephanie completed her MD at the University of Louisville. She is currently practicing medicine at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH.
2005 - National Conference on Undergraduate Reserach, Lexington, VA
2005 - Posters-at-the-Captiol oral presentation to Kentucky Legislature, Frankfort, KY
2005 - Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington D.C.
2004 - Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA
From Stephanie (Spring 2005):
In the two and one half years I have studied as an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky, I have received academic honors of varying types. I have been on the Dean's List every semester of my undergraduate career with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. I am a member of the Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. I have received an award for highest GPA in my sorority, Delta Gamma, every semester. In the fall of 2003 I was awarded the Ribble Fellowship for undergraduate research and in 2004 I received a Summer Research and Creativity Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research.
My involvement in research began during my senior year in high school. I enrolled in a class titled “Research” with seven other students. Each student was placed with a mentor who was currently involved in a research project. I was placed with Dr. Larry Shoemaker, a physician at Kosair Children's Hospital and researcher at the University of Louisville. His project was centered on the symptoms of irritable bowel disorder in pediatric patients. Transgenic rats with symptoms of the disease were mated with normal brown rats and the progeny were tested for the types and amounts of leukocytes in their blood. While I shadowed Dr. Shoemaker, I assisted with running gels, blood tests for leukocytes, extracting blood from the test rats, and other general lab duties. The class was a way for me to see inside the world of research.
Fast forward to my Beckman project in which I make use of the known simplicity of the synaptic structure at the crayfish opener neuromuscular junction (NMJ) and its quantal nature of transmitter release, to assess discrete synapses within the motor nerve terminals. With the living terminals visualized by exposure to a vital fluorescent dye (4-Di-2-ASP), the lumen of a loose patch electrode is directly placed over a spatially isolated varicosity. The specific aims of my research are:
1. To use drugs known to block glutamate uptake in mammalian neurons and examine if they also work in two invertebrate preparations (i.e., crayfish and Drosophila).
2. To investigate if the fluctuation in quantal size occurs for neurons at rest or only for neurons that are rapidly turning over their synaptic vesicles.
3. To investigate if the turnover rate is quicker for high output phasic motor neurons as compared to low output tonic neurons.
4. To determine if the population of readily recycling vesicles during electrical activation of the nerve terminal are distinctly separate from reserve vesicles.
These studies will provide insight into the mechanisms of vesicle recycling and kinetics as well as distinguish differences in the vesicle recycling process among different types of motor neurons.