Hampden-Sydney is uniquely positioned to encourage student research. Biology majors work closely with faculty performing both course-based and independent research in the lab and in the field. They are addressing exciting questions in biology, including cancer biology/immunology, virus prevalence/pathogenicity in reptiles, whale physiology, invasive plant species, neurobiology, and genomic characterization of bacteriophages, while also honing their critical thinking and oral/written communication skills, ultimately making them more successful upon graduation.

Student Research in Biology

Corey Williams '19, Coleman Johnson '19, and Elliott Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon '01 published a review article on cancer immunotherapy in the journal International Immunopharmacology entitled "Immune Checkpoint Blockade Therapy for Cancer: An Overview of FDA-approved Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor." Their article highlights the emerging field of checkpoint blockade therapy that has revolutionized the treatment of many cancer types in recent years. Designed to "release the brakes" that inherently limit the strength and duration of natural immune responses, checkpoint blockade therapy enables many patients to achieve long-term anti-tumor immune responses capable of eradicating their disease.  Both students have been doing melanoma research in Dr. Hargadon's laboratory since the summer of 2017 and have been accepted to Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Medicine.

Will Fussy '18 chose an Honors Capstone research topic that combined his biology major with his desire to attend law school: the legal patenting of human genes. At the crux of Will's thesis is the 2013 Supreme Court case AMP v. Myriad, which ruled that natural DNA discoveries, such as the isolated BRCA1 breast cancer gene and the test that identifies it, could not be patented. Will's paper examined the ruling's effect on research and innovation. The interdisciplinary project had Will working with professors from multiple disciplines: government professor Guy Burnett, who advised Will's legal research; biology professor Michael Wolyniak, who advised his scientific research; and classics professor Janice Siegel, who advised his writing.

David Bushhouse '19 received a $750 Undergraduate Research Grant from the Virginia Academy of Science for his poster presentation at the Fall VAS Undergraduate Research Meeting. He presented summer research on the role of the FOXC2 transcription factor in melanoma progression. David is working with Dr. Kristian Hargadon to identify novel genes regulated by FOXC2 in melanoma. Bushhouse will also be presenting his work at the American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting, a national conference held in Philadelphia, PA.

Brant Boucher '17 and James H. Lau '17 presented their melanoma research at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting. Their work "provides new insights into FOXC2 function that have not been previously reported and describes a novel strategy for interfering with FOXC2 specifically in melanoma, but not healthy, cells," explains Elliott Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian Hargadon '01. Both Boucher and Lau are headed to medical school.

James H. Lau '17, a biology major and Goldwater Scholar, performed research with Elliott Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Kristian Hargadon '01. The goal of James' research was to understand factors that control melanoma growth and metastasis. Specifically, he investigated the role of the FOXC2 protein as a regulator of melanoma progression.

Josh Chamberlin '17, was involved in Assistant Professor of Biology, Dr. Erin Clabough's research investigating the developmental patterns that regulate sea turtle hatching on Hatteras Island. The work involved the placement of sensors into newly laid sea turtle nests using an innovative, remote controlled, real time access sensor and communication system designed to monitor motion within the nests. This was an extension of his summer research through the H-SC Honors Program, which he did jointly with an internship at the Hatteras Island Ocean Center.

Taylor Meinhardt '16, under the supervision of Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Mike Wolyniak, presented his research on the molecular activation of T-cells at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in San Diego, California. Taylor performed this research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with the Hampden-Sydney Honors Council Summer Research Program. His mentor at the NIH, Dr. Sricharan Murugesan, visits H-SC regularly and works with Dr. Wolyniak to bring cutting-edge laboratory research opportunities to the College's biology students.  

Find out more about the Student Research program at Hampden-Sydney College:

Student Research at H-SC