Photo Gallery: Academic Journal Films On-Campus Research of Biology Professor and Students in Lab

Many students at Holy Cross have the opportunity to conduct research during their undergraduate careers, but this fall, a group of students who worked under Sarah Webster, assistant professor of biology, were given the chance to share their research with a wider academic audience. The “Journal of Visualized Experiments” (JOVE) was on campus to film Dan Luu ’15 and Jessica DeSimone ’13 to accompany the publication of their peer-reviewed research article, co-authored by Webster, Luu, DeSimone, Timothy Murphy ’14, Thomas O"Brien ’12, Christopher Lally ’12, and Jillian Lindblad ’11. The video allowed Luu and DeSimone to demonstrate the technique used in Webster’s lab to investigate the underlying basis of touch and hearing.

“My students have developed this technique,” says Webster, “that combines a complicated genetic paradigm with a simple behavioral reflex to try to help us understand the proteins involved in the nervous system’s response to touch. The students were involved in every aspect of the project, from breeding flies to generate complex genetic backgrounds, to determining the best ways to stimulate the flies to get a reliable set of responses.”

This research and the resulting JOVE article exemplify what Webster identifies as “the productive research students are able to engage with on campus, where they are able to work one-on-one alongside their professors.” She explains that in addition to providing a fresh perspective for her own work each year, her work with students is beneficial to them as well. Working in a laboratory at Holy Cross opens doors for students pursuing further education as medical and graduate students, or starting careers in the biomedical field; this includes the article’s co-authors, who have continued to conduct research after graduation and/or pursue advanced degrees.

“Working with Professor Webster, I was given a lot of independence. I got to train new students and really test my knowledge of the research going on,” says Luu, who conducted research in Webster’s lab from the summer after his first year until graduation, not knowing the project would lead to publication. “As the project progressed through my sophomore, junior, and senior years, I could really see it taking shape and form. Performing research as an undergrad under Professor Webster allowed me to grow as both a scientist and student.”

Students continue conducting research across campus each semester.

See the recently published academic article and accompanying video on the
JOVE website.

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