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Marquis Scholar Kelly Brady ’05 (Brick, N.J.) has been studying seizure activities of fruit flies since last summer to further the understanding of the nervous system.

She will present her research at the 81st Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science April 8-10.

Brady, a neuroscience major, has been working with fruit flies that experience seizures under stress. This nervous system response is caused by a defect or mutation in the fly.With the help of Elaine Reynolds, associate professor of biology and chair of neuroscience, Brady began her research by using a breed of mutant fruit flies and locating regions of the brain that create the seizure.

“Mutant flies are defective in these brain areas,” Reynolds explains.

After Brady located the area that causes the seizure, she worked to prevent seizure by placing a normal gene into the brain. Using molecular science techniques and genetics, she studied how the mutations affected epilepsy in the fruit flies.

“In addition to learning invaluable molecular techniques such as cloning, transformations, and mini-preps of DNA, I now understand more about the ups and downs of scientific research,” she says.

Captain of the women’s soccer team, Brady says the project correlates with her plans to conduct research in graduate school.

“This project is definitely going to help me in the future because it is giving me excellent lab experience and it is the start of doing research on my own,” she says.

Her research with Reynolds began through Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

“Part of my teaching mission and that of the college is to provide this type of research training to undergraduates,” Reynolds says. “I believe students here have the knowledge, the determination, and the institutional support that allow them to undertake laboratory research that can lead to significant results.”

Brady says that she knew she wanted to conduct research at Lafayette because the College provides students with educational experiences to do so.

“Lafayette is unique because unlike some larger schools, we can develop strong relationships with professors leading to discussion, research, and independent studies,” Brady says. “That helps students pursue goals and academic pursuits that really interest them.”

“Kelly and I work well together and we have had fun in the lab getting to know each other better,” Reynolds says. “Hopefully, I provide her with the academic and personal support that comes from a close relationship with a faculty member.”

She alsovolunteers with the Lehigh Valley Mentoring Program and has participated in Lafayette Leadership Council and Sports Council. Through Lafayette’s alumni externship program, Brady spent time on the job with physician Charles Gatt Jr. ’85 of University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson University Orthopedic Group.

Chosen from among Lafayette’s most promising applicants, Marquis Scholars like Brady receive special financial aid and distinctive educational experiences and benefits, including a three-week, Lafayette-funded study-abroad course during January’s interim session between regular semesters. Marquis Scholars also participate in cultural activities in major cities and on campus, and mentoring programs with Lafayette faculty.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Thirty-nine students have been accepted to present their work at the next annual conference in April.

Categorized in: Academic News