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Student Research

FAMU: Student scientist first to clone muscadine grape gene

Florida A&M University College of Agriculture and Food Sciences student Jasmine A. Hall is the first young scientist to clone the Flavanone 3′ Hydroxylase (F3’H) gene from muscadine grapes. Hall’s groundbreaking accomplishment is a part of ongoing research at FAMU’s Center of Viticulture and Small Fruit Research that has uncovered the multiple health benefits of the super food. Hall is also among the first scientists to deposit sequences for the cloned F3’H gene in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Genebank. As a young pioneer in this area of research, Hall’s efforts are poised to aid in the production of nutraceuticals that will be made available to consumers in the future. She is also in the process of writing a manuscript on her findings to be published in the near future.

Florida Poly: Be the Next Gamechanger

Sometimes the smallest things hold the biggest impact.

For Chris Dowdy and his classmates at Florida Polytechnic University, the key to unlocking new levels of sustainable energy can only be seen under a microscope.

Chris’ research project focuses on a miniscule form of algae called diatoms. Diatoms come in literally thousands of forms and most are no wider than a human hair. By encasing them in titanium using nanotechnology, these diatoms can conduct and store electricity. Now, Chris and his team are exploring whether these modified diatoms can be used to replace the most expensive and inefficient part of a solar panel: the metal film.

“A lot of resources are used to create that film. We’re confident there has to be a better way,” Chris says.

The implications are huge. By using lab-grown diatoms, a renewable energy source like solar power could be collected using another renewable energy source. Cheaper solar power will open access to electricity in impoverished corners of the world.

Chris credits his professor for inspiring him and his team to link their passion for technology to biology. And, at Florida Poly, they have the facilities and resources to explore their ideas.

“It’s inspiring to think about where we can go with this,” Chris says.

FGCU: Student ‘virus hunters’ publish research on bacteria-destroying viruses

Students and faculty involved in FGCU’s “Honors Virus Hunters” course helped produce a research paper on genomes that has been accepted for publication in eLife, a highly ranked peer reviewed scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciences. FGCU Virus Hunters gave 15 underclassmen – mostly freshmen – a unique opportunity for hands-on research and an early experience of being published. Their work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science program, a genomics project that involves universities across the country and increasingly across the globe and contributes to the understanding of common bacteria-destroying viruses.

New College: In-depth researcher

Constance Sartor’s parents put a mask and fins on her when she was 3, and she’s never turned back. These days, you’ll often find the New College student diving in the shark tank at Sarasota’s nearby Mote Marine Aquarium.Her next stop: a summer internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Sartor is a winner of the nationwide Ernest F. Hollings Scholarships for 2016, which provide two years of tuition assistance and a paid internship at an NOAA research facility. She is one of 127 winners nationally, and the only one from a Florida public college. The second-year New College student, from Orlando, is a natural for the Hollings award. She has had a lifelong passion for science and environmental conservation. She’s kept her own insect collection since she was 10, and last year got a permit to capture invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades.


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