Yeatman Awardees Meg Armisted, April Shi, & Linnea Carver
The 2013 Harry C. Yeatman Award in Biology was awarded to Biology major April Shi and Ecology & Biodiversity majors Meg Armisted and Linnea Carver at the annual Biology Department's Junior-Senior Event Sunday, September 22nd in the Harris Commons of Spencer Hall. The Harry C. Yeatman Award in Biology, established to honor Professor Yeatman, is given to the senior major(s) exhibiting leadership and inspiration in the study of biology.
April Shi (Biology '14) Supervising Professor: Dr. Nancy Berner
In her research project, Mengqi (April) Shi is studying plasma melatonin levels in the Eastern red spotted newt for her research Project. This species of newt is active in the winter and makes several phenotypic changes that allow for this winter activity. April's research follows up preliminary data we have indicating that day length plays a role in stimulating acclimation. Melatonin is a hormone that functions to signal changing seasons in a variety of vertebrates. Thus, April will determine plasma melatonin levels in newts collected from the field in summer and winter at noon and midnight in each season. She will also determine midnight plasma melatonin in newts kept in the lab in differing summer and winter temperature and light regimes. These data will be the first measurements of melatonin in this species. From these measurements we will be able to determine if plasma melatonin levels are correlated with day length - and thus if melatonin could play a role in acclimation. Finally, April is also working to clone the gene for arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT2), a key enzyme in the production of melatonin. The goal is to determine expression levels of this gene in the brains of newts to determine if expression levels correlate with plasma melatonin levels. If they do, they could be used as a proxy for plasma melatonin measurements.
Meg started her Honors Research as an Ecology & Biodiversity major in the summer of 2012. Her work has focused on the effect of deer browse as an important process determining the composition and structure of of forests. She developed simple plant community metrics to assess the impact of deer on tree regeneration and used the Global Information System (GIS) to apply these metrics across the landscape allowing her to assess the spatial heterogeneity of deer impacts and inform deer management decision-making. Meg presented this research in early 2013 as a talk at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Deer Study Group - the only female undergraduate at the meeting. She then presented this work as a poster at Scholarship Sewanee 2013 and was honored with a McCrady Prize. Meg was also a 2012 Belize Program participant and is currently an Undergraduate Biodiversity Fellow with the Herbarium and the President of the Sewanee Natural History Society.