(Portland, Ore.)—Spending 40 hours a week with venomous spiders might not be an ideal summer vacation for most people, but for sophomore Tessa Marzulla and junior Micah Depper it’s been an incredible experience. The biology majors have spent their summer analyzing the evolution of the Loxosceles reclusa, or brown recluse spider as part of the John S. Rogers Science Research Program, a summer internship program that supports student-faculty collaborative research in the sciences.
In this video, Marzulla and Depper talk about their summer research experience, working with Greta Binford, assistant professor of biology, to understand the evolutionary processes that have led to the widespread, diverse brown recluse spider population. Found in the Americas, Africa, and Mediterranean Europe, the brown recluse has been known to bite, causing lesions in human tissue. Marzulla and Depper are examining DNA sequences and analyzing the enzymatic activity of the spider’s venom to improve treatment and diagnosis of bites.
Rogers Program participants begin their summer research internships in May, working at least 40 hours per week, for 10 weeks. Each research group discusses their research with science faculty during a series of brown-bag lunch presentations on Wednesdays throughout June and July. At the end of the summer, each team writes a research paper discussing their findings and prepares a poster to present in the fall to local, regional, national and international scientific meetings.
The Rogers Summer Science Poster session happens on Tuesday, September 30, at 4:30 p.m. in Smith Hall. The event is free and open to the public.