June 23, 2022

Hello Summer!

And hello heat!  While heat and humidity is the norm for our area, we’ve reached record highs for mid-June with a +100° heat index over several days.   To be honest, it's been pretty awful, even for those of us who have lived here all of our lives.


But guess what else is hot!?  ALL OF THE SUMMER RESEARCH TAKING PLACE IN THE ROLLINS-SMITH LAB!  We are excited to have three summer students working with us; two of them are from the Aspirnaut program here at Vanderbilt, and the third student is employed as a summer intern.  We love mentoring young scientists, and these ladies are showing great potential with a bright future ahead of them.



Meet Our Students!

Shouana Yang: Shouana is a high school Aspirnaut student who comes to us from Hmong College Prep Academy in St Paul, MN.  She is a member of the Junior Committee where she plans fundraisers in support of her class.  She aspires to be a dermatologist, but in the meantime, she enjoys journaling, listening to music, baking, watching films, playing volleyball, and collecting vinyl LPs.  Her summer project looks at the interaction between the Jurkat human cell line with either heat killed Bd, Hp, or Bsal cells in a co-culture experiment.  Our lab has shown that cell-to-cell interactions between chytrid fungi and immune cells can inhibit proliferation and/or viability of lymphocytes, and Shouana is looking at this interaction with her experiments.

Reagan Hagewood: Reagan is not only an Aspirnaut student but she is also native to the area.  She is from La Vergne, TN, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Nashville.  She attends college in Texas at Prairie View A&M University.  There she majors in biology with a minor in chemistry, and she is a member of the Honors Program.  Reagan enjoys exploring parks and greenways, reading self-help books, traveling, journaling, and spending time with friends and family.  She aspires to be a physician-scientist.  During her time in our lab, Reagan is looking at co-cultures of Bd and Bsal to examine the dynamics of how they behave when grown together.  Via qPCR, she is looking to see if one species is able to out compete the other.  This can lend insight as to what may be happening during Bd/Bsal co-infection in an amphibian.

Sarah Lofland:  Sarah is from Philadelphia and attends the University of Pittsburgh, where she is a rising junior.  This is not her first rodeo in a research lab; she has previous experience in a biophysics lab in New Jersey.  She plans to pursue a PhD upon graduation and is interested in clinical trials research as a career.  Sarah is furthering much of the work done by Kaitlyn Linney and Jack Lee by extracting and testing cell wall preps derived from Bd, Bsal, and Hp fungi.  Our previous work has shown that their cell walls contain inhibitory factors that can hinder proliferation of immune cells.  Sarah is continues this work, and we look forward to her results.

We welcome everyone to the lab and look forward to a fruitful summer!  There is funding news on the horizon; stay tuned, and we’ll update you on that in the coming weeks!