Hark Research Lab Alumni

Dana Tedesco '11 has carried out Independe‌nt Studies during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years as well as conducted summer research that was supported by Merck-AAAS.  Dana began by constructing an ADA2b transgene harboring a deletion of a plant-specific domain for use in functional tests.  In collaboration with Dr. Steven Triezenberg and Nathan Lord (both formerly at Michigan State University), Dana also initiated a biochemical project in our lab designed to determine interacting partners of ADA2b and GCN5.  Dana began her doctoral studies in microbiology and immunology in the fall of 2011.

Kelsey Parry '11 joined the lab in Fall 2009 after participating in a summer undergraduate training workshop sponsored by the GEP held at Washington University in St. Louis in August of 2009.  In addition to developing course materials for BIO 152, in the same semester Kelsey annotated a D. erecta fosmid as a independent study project.  In Spring 2010, Kelsey worked on genotyping various ADA2b transgenic lines. Kelsey is currently serving in Teach for America.

Elia Wright '10served as a Research Assistant during the 2009-2010 academic year, piloting expression analysis of ADA2b transgenic lines using Real-time PCR.  Elia is currently in a Ph.D. program studying biochemistry.

Mazen Tolaymat '11 continued Elia's work as an Independent Study in Fall 2010. Mazen is now in medical school.
Ashley Kendig '10 worked on a collaborative project with Dr. Elizabeth McCain
during the 2008-2009 academic year.  Ashley's research further investigates trichome patterning in gcn5-1 mutant and wildtype plants using scanning electron microscopy (SEM).  Ashley is currently serving in Teach for America. 
‌‌Biology Peter Ashman '12 continued this work, serving as a Research Assistant in Fall 2009. 
Biology Department Faculty Evan Sheppard '09 joined the lab in Spring 2008, working on constructing transgenes that will be used to assay function of various domains of the transcriptional coactivator ADA2b. He continued his work in the summer of 2008 (with support from Merck-AAAS) as well as in the 2008-2009 academic year.  Evan entered medical school in the fall of 2009.
Biology Department Faculty Audrey Tiong '10 carried out an Independent Study in Spring 2008. In collaboration with Dr. McCain, she used scanning electron microscopy to assess trichome type and number on Arabidopsis leaves. 
Biology Department Faculty Zachary Kuschner '09 was awarded a Student Summer Grant for 2008 from the Dean of the College for Academic Life.  This competitive award supported Zach’s 2008 summer study of GCN5 localization within the developing flower. Zach continued this collaborative work with Dr. McCain during the 2008-2009 academic year.  Zach matricualted into medical school in the fall of 2009.

Biology John Schocken '09 (below) worked on a collaborative project with Dr. Elizabeth McCain, in which they employed scanning electron microscopy to analyze gcn5 mutant flowers. The goal of this project was to determine when and where alterations in floral development first arise, as a step towards understanding GCN5's role in executing this developmental program. Their work identified defects in floral bud initiation and stamen development.

John initiated his work during an Independent Study in Spring 2007 and continued his work in the summer of 2007, with support from FIPSE and the James R. Vaughn '52 Student Award.  John began his Ph.D. studies in the fall of 2009 ‌
Biology Department Faculty Ross Cohen '09 worked on the project with John Schocken from Spring 2007 through 2008, with his summer work supported by FIPSE. Ross matriculated into a D.O. program in the fall of 2009.
Biology Department Faculty Angela Jablonski '08 conducted research as an Independent Study in Spring 2006 and continued her work in the summer of 2006, funded by a grant from Merck-AAAS. Angela employed bioinformatics tools to explore and assess genomic sequence data available for other plant species as one way to further study ADA2 and GCN5. These collected sequences will influence our decisions about which other homologs to pursue for further study. Sequence alignments also inform the lab’s thinking about which domains of ADA2 are functionally significant. Angela also investigated growth conditions under which ada2b mutant plants could survive throughout their development. Angela graduated with a Neuroscience major and began graduate studies in Fall 2009. 
Biology Department Faculty John Santa Maria '08 participated in the Muhlenberg Summer Research Program in summer 2005.  His research used scanning electron microscopy to characterize floral defects in Arabidopsis plants harboring mutations in a variety of transcriptional coactivators.  John's work was carried out in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth McCain and supported by a grant from Johnson & Johnson. John presented his work at the Eighth Annual Undergraduate Research Sympoisum held at University of Maryland, Baltimore County in October 2005. John, who was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2006 in recognition of his potential for a productive career in the sciences, began his doctoral study in chemical biology in Fall 2008.
Biology Department Faculty

Hillary Gordon '07 (left) and Nora Hudis '07 (right) joined the lab in Fall 2005. They engaged in molecular cloning projects designed to construct chimeric transgenes composed of both ADA2a and ADA2b coding sequence. These transgene constructs will then be introduced into Arabidopsis and tested for their ability to complement an ada2b mutant plant. Interpretation of these results will provide information about what sequences or domains of ADA2b are required for biological function. Hillary also investigated the response of Arabidopsis plants to the stress of waterlogging, which served as a second experimental component of her department honors project. Hillary received a Student Summer Grant from The Dean of the College to support her work in the summer of 2006. Hillary and Nora presented their work at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2007 annual meeting held in Washington, D.C. Both Nora and Hillary matriculated into medical school programs in August 2007.

Biology Department Faculty

Sumana Rao was a Visiting Scientist in the laboratory. She investigated the phenotype of ada2a and other mutant plants in response to abiotic stresses. She also worked on assessing the phenotype of plants that are double mutant for gcn5 and ada2a and contributed to the cloning of chimeric transgenes.


Sunny Saxena, a local high school student, worked in the lab in summer 2005 characterizing a new mutation in the ADA2a gene. In the spring of 2006, Sunny was awarded first place in his category at the Lehigh Valley Science Fair, and advanced to the Delaware Valley Science Fair, where he presented an extension of his summer work.

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Page last updated July 2012.