I received my undergraduate degree in pre-professional biology from the University of West Florida in conjunction with the University Honors Program in May 2008. Currently, I am pursuing my Masterís degree under the mentorship of Dr. Ryals. My research interests coincide with the specialties of the Ryals Lab including membrane biochemistry and molecular biology of single-celled organisms, particularly Tetrahymena. I submitted an honors thesis to satisfy Honors Program requirements in the spring of 2008 concerning calcium-binding and iron-binding proteins in Tetrahymena vorax using electrophoretic analysis coupled with assorted staining procedures.
My thesis research deals with the effects of lithium and valproic acid on the phenotypic state of Tetrahymena patula, and examining the effect of lithium and valproic acid on glycerophospholipid composition. The majority of Tetrahymena species persist in the microstomal state; whereas, T. patula persists in the macrostomal state. Past research has shown that a stable microstomal identity can be obtained by adding lithium chloride to the growth medium. Lithium and valproic acid have been found to inhibit myo-inositol phosphate phosphatases in higher eukaryotes. Both have been utilized in treating bipolar disorder. Effects of lithium and valproic acid on T. patula morphology will be observed followed by determining the changes in phospholipid composition.