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Student Awarded National Research Grant

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ It's not every day that a student studies the DNA structure of a hemoglobin gene. But Chrissa Wright, a junior biochemistry and biology major at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, is doing just that with the help of a national research grant.

Wright, from Bernhards Bay, N.Y., is the recipient of a Sigma Xi Grants in Aid of Research Award. Sigma Xi is the international research society.

To apply for the grant, Wright wrote a detailed grant proposal, including a budget. She also included two letters of recommendations from Dr. Nancy Elwess, associate professor of biological sciences, and Dr. William Deutschman, assistant professor of chemistry.

Wright was awarded $400 for her research project on the structural and functional analysis of the hemoglobin gene in paramecium tetraurelia.

"We sequenced the gene on the new DNA sequencer in the genetics labs at Plattsburgh, and thus far, I've examined genetic expression under high and low oxidative conditions," said Wright, who is spending her summer as an undergraduate research fellow at SUNY Upstate Medical Center. "Then we are going to do RNA interference next fall."

She will present her research this summer at the International East Coast Meeting of Protozoology and in October at the National Association of Biology Teachers Conference in Albuquerque, N.M.

"I have enjoyed my research immensely. I could have never imagined all the opportunities that have come my way. I'm very grateful to Dr. Elwess and Sandy Latourelle (adjunct lecturer of biological sciences)."

Wright became interested in this research during her molecular genetics class in fall 2005 and began a project that branched off from a project by Kathleen Lanzer, who graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh last December.

"My research has a similar protocol with a different gene."

Wright's goals include going to graduate school to pursue her Ph.D. in molecular genetics and to be a researcher.

"I transferred to Plattsburgh from SUNY Buffalo after my first year. I wanted to have more close interaction with the faculty, and I've gotten that here. It was a great decision to come here."

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