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Undergraduates Receive Grants for Biology Research

Mercy Melo ’21 and Kimberly Hane ’21 Awarded Research Grants from Beta Beta Beta Research Grant Foundation

Mercy Melo ’21 and Kimberly Hane ’21


Beta Beta Beta is the National Biological Honor Society and their research grant foundation supports undergraduate research projects. Marcy Melo ’21 and Kimberly Hane ’21 were both awarded research grants from the organization.

Mercy is a junior biology major from Lehighton, Pa. She is currently doing research to explore how bacteria living in the gut of wild birds change during chick development. She was recently awarded a Beta Beta Beta grant to support her project entitled "Gastrointestinal microbiome biodiversity in developing American kestrel chicks."

Melo will use the funds to purchase supplies and travel to a sequencing facility at Cornell University. Her project is supervised by Dr. Allison Cornell, assistant professor of biology, and co-supervised by Jenn Houtz at Cornell University and Dr. JF Therrien of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

Kimberly Hane is a junior Honors student from Zieglerville, Pa. with a double major in genetic engineering and forensic science. She was awarded a research grant from Beta Beta Beta Research Foundation to continue her ongoing research project entitled, "Crime Scene Analysis: Identification of Saliva Using High Resolution Melt Curves.”

The current methods for identifying saliva at a crime scene rely on the presence of amylase, an enzyme that may be found in other bodily fluids. Hane is working to develop a novel, DNA-based assay that uses epigenetic markers to distinguish saliva from all other bodily fluids.  Her methodology is based on real-time polymerase chain reaction and high resolution melt curve analysis and is under the advisement of Dr. K. Joy Karnas, professor of biology.