Students majoring in Biology have the opportunity to conduct research with our faculty.  For students who qualify, this research often culminates in a senior thesis project which is a requirement for students to graduate with Honors in Biology.

Meet our Current Thesis Students

Tyler Allcroft, ’23

For my senior thesis I am preforming single-cell experiments of Dictyostelium discoideum’s oxidative stress response to singlet oxygen produced by Rose Bengal and blue light. The goal of my project is to determine the role of the cell-cycle in the heterogeneity of stress response in our system.

I got into this research because of my interest in how oxidative stress affects biological systems as it has implications in cancer and other diseases. I am interested in oncologic medicine and will apply to medical school this spring.

Alyce Segal, ’23

My honors thesis is called “Testing For Consumptive And Non-Consumptive Effects Of Different-Sized Stoneflies (Acroneuria abnormis) On Prey Communities”. Predators affect prey communities through two pathways – by eating prey (i.e., consumptive effects) and by modifying prey traits (i.e., non-consumptive effects), such as behavior. Predator body size could influence both consumptive and non-consumptive effects, but these effects have rarely been compared across predator sizes. My research used a field experiment to manipulate stonefly (Acroneuria abnormis) size and their ability to feed on prey (via mouthpart gluing) and measured effects on the aquatic insect prey community in the Tankerhoosen River (Vernon, CT).

I got into this work as I wanted to be more involved in the field of ecology. Knowing that the state of our planet is less than ideal, I wanted the research that I was involved in to contribute to a healthier planet in one way or another.

Flynn Gorman, ’23

My honors thesis focuses on the consequences of animal personality and how it relates to feeding rate, activity level, and body size variation within invertebrate dragonfly nymph individuals under the mentorship of Dr. Toscano.

I have been working in Dr. Toscano’s lab since May of 2021 and in doing so I have been given the amazing opportunity to further my research experience outside of coursework while also having the freedom to design my own experiments, collaborate with my lab mates, and gain experience in writing and preparing my own thesis. Additionally, doing research at Trinity qualified me to apply and be awarded a research fellowship under the National Science Foundation’s REU program in which I studied the reproductive ultrastructure of hydrothermal vent gastropods at the University of Oregon. I hope to continue researching after I graduate in May and apply the skills I have learned at Trinity to new and diverse scientific disciplines in my career!

Julian Marlowe, ’23

Proper development is contingent on a complex array of cellular signaling systems acting in unison. The Notch signaling system is implicated in essential developmental processes such as neurogenesis, wing formation, and the establishment of embryonic polarity. Notch is a membrane-bound receptor that mediates signaling in a juxtracrine fashion, binding to adjacent membrane-bound ligands. In my research, I am examining the molecular mechanisms behind the hyperactivation of Notch displayed by Abruptex alleles.

I got involved in research during my junior year after taking many courses covering cellular signaling and genetics. These classes were very formative and sparked my interest in the genetic techniques that can be utilized to dissect complex pathways.

Jacob Borgida, ’23

My research focuses on lysosomal storage diseases, and how gene-targeted therapies are changing what is treatable. I am conducting library research and doing database searches on the biology of lysosomal storage diseases, newborn screening, and gene-targeted therapies for three selected diseases that can be reliably detected by genetic sequencing. The three diseases I am focusing on are Krabbe, Gaucher, and Fabry disease. Early detection of the pathogenic variants for each disease enables better health outcomes and shorter diagnostic odysseys.

During the summer of 2020, I conducted research on gene-targeted therapies for the repair of the nervous system through a lab at the University of Minnesota Medical School. After completing a genetics course at Trinity in the spring of 2021, I began research at a clinical genetics lab in Boston named Genomes2People. One of their main projects I contributed to was examining the behavioral, economic, and medical impact of genetic sequencing in newborns. Through this research, my interest in genetics spiked and I was able to find a set of disorders that allows me to combine my interest in genetics with cell biology. I plan to pursue medical school after graduating from Trinity in the spring of 2023.

Olivia Pomerleau, ’23

My name is Olivia Pomerleau and I am a thesis student in the biology department. I am currently studying the relationship between the skin microbiome and atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. More specifically, I am looking at the treatment options for adult-onset atopic dermatitis. I am hypothesizing that adult-onset atopic dermatitis is more of a microbiome dysbiosis issue.

I chose this area of research because my aunt recently was diagnosed with eczema and never had it as a child. I also am interested in going to medical school and hopefully pursuing dermatology. Combining all of this with my interest in microbiology, I found the perfect topic to study. Currently I am also an EMT at Trinity Health of New England. I have found that emergency medicine is quite different from studying skin diseases.

Henry Lagasse, ’23

While looking at molecular data to form a phylogeny is the most concrete way of identifying how species are related to one another, morphological data can provide evidence both for species circumscription as well as the evolution of functional traits. As a result, it is important to be able to combine molecular and morphological evidence in identifying a species.

In my research I am looking at spore perine morphology as a possible new character to be used in the identification of species within the fern genus, Polystichum. Fern spores have an outer layer called the perispore that has different ornamental structures like ridges and perforations that are known to vary interspecifically. I am scoring perine characteristics using SEM (scanning electron microscopy) image and mapping these characters onto a molecular phylogeny of Polystichum in order to reconstruct evolutionary history.

I got into this research due to my interest in plant biology that I gained through taking Plants of New England (BIOL 218), Botany (BIOL 215), and Evolution of plant structures (BIOL 223). Professor Patel is my thesis advisor for this project.